KanCare, the privatization of Medicaid health services in Kansas for the 380,000 poor — approximately 40,000 of whom live in Johnson County — is only about two weeks old.
It is supposed to save the state a billion dollars over five years.
So far, it is off to a rocky start.
Some predicted that KanCare’s launch would be chaotic, because it was rushed into existence over several months. It appears the chickens have come home to roost.
One local agency official, Lurena Mead, who is community relations manager for Johnson County Developmental Supports, calls KanCare, so far, a “travesty.”
She cites a number of examples of KanCare’s problems:
Many primary care physicians have not signed up with any of the three managed care organizations (MCOs), so people have to change providers they have been using for years.
Not all hospitals have signed up with the three MCOs.
And then there are the anecdotal stories, like the 8-year-old boy who was assigned a gynecologist as his primary care physician and a 25-year-old man who was assigned a pediatrician as his primary care physician.
Mead’s list goes on and on, but you get her point.
Jason Wesco, director of Health Partnership Clinic in Johnson County, says that KanCare is “not going real well.” He says there are “serious problems.”
He, too, has a list of complaints, but mostly he says that the KanCare system “seems overwhelmed,” and that it was “rushed.” Among his complaints, he says that it still is not confirmed that his organization is a KanCare provider, despite the fact that about 20 percent of its clientele are formerly Medicaid beneficiaries. In other words, he does not know if he will be reimbursed for those former Medicaid patients he is still providing health care to and does not know who has been assigned to his organization.
Maureen Womack, who is the director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center, is at odds with the MCOs over a variety of issues.
Because she has contractual issues with the MCOs and thus has not signed on the dotted line, the Mental Health Center is not a bonafide provider of KanCare at this time.
The Mental Health Center sees 11,000 clients a year, of whom more than 6,000 were formerly on Medicaid.
If KanCare cannot get the Mental Health Center on board, the 6,000 clients must be assigned to another provider, which Womack says is almost impossible to implement, because her organization is, by far, the largest provider of mental health services to the poor in Johnson County.
Fortunately, Kansas built into the contracts with the three MCOs that during a “grace period” of reportedly 90 days, all former Medicaid beneficiaries will be covered, no matter what the glitches may be with their health-care providers.
This gives KanCare a short time to resolve its issues with the would-be providers, and to get the 380,000 Kansans assigned correctly to their primary care physicians and dentists.
The ombudsman for KanCare, who is handling all the complaints, did not return my phone calls.
| Special to The Star