TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A bipartisan group of Kansas legislators wants Gov. Sam Brownback to delay his proposed changes in the state's Medicaid program until 2013.
The lawmakers - Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate - are circulating a petition among colleagues.
They said Wednesday there are too many unknowns about the Republican administration's plans to move to a managed-care system of health plans for poor and elderly Kansans.
The administration wants to award three contracts to manage the program. But the legislators worry the changes will reduce benefits for Medicaid recipients or reimbursements for providers.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer says delaying the changes would do nothing to slow the state's rising health care costs.
Colyer says nearly 75 percent of Kansas Medicaid recipients are already covered by managed-care programs. He released the following statement Wednesday afternoon.
“Most Kansans don’t realize that nearly 75 percent of Medicaid consumers in our state already receive some form of managed care. But their care is not coordinated, nor are their providers given incentives to improve their health outcomes. Instead our state has witnessed skyrocketing costs, growing waiting lists, fragmented care and disappointed, frustrated consumers. None of these outcomes are acceptable for our most vulnerable citizens.
KanCare will provide less restrictive environments for many Medicaid consumers and decrease unnecessary hospitalizations. It will finally provide individuals with chronic conditions the coordinated and integrated behavioral health care, medical care and long-term services and supports they so badly need. It would be a costly mistake to postpone making these critical improvements to our system.
The administration has moved slowly and with deliberation to develop and begin implementing these reforms. KanCare is the result of involved, detailed study and planning that began more than a year ago. Full implementation of KanCare will take more than 14 months.
This is a far different than the paths taken by other states feeling the same budget pinch. Some states chose to simply impose rate cuts and stop providing care to thousands of needy citizens. Others pushed their Medicaid reform through rapidly. Kentucky spent less than eight months from concept to implementation of its reform and abruptly transferred 77% of its Medicaid consumers from fee-for-service model into managed care, causing great confusion for consumers and health care providers
Kansas is drawing from the best examples from around the country . We are putting in place policies to avoid stumbling blocks that have tripped up other states. Medicaid consumers will receive better services under KanCare. We will work with Kansans to ensure they understand the plan before it is implemented. KanCare contractors will be held accountable.
We have undertaken this reform slowly but surely. Delaying KanCare will only guarantee continued cost increases, put providers at risk of rate cuts, and threaten the quality of care being provided to vulnerable Kansans. The status quo is not serving us well, and delay will not improve the health of anyone.”