KanCare

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Given all the controversy about KanCare – Kansas’ privatized Medicaid program – it would be reasonable to expect big crowds at public hearings about renewing the program.

But that wasn’t the case Wednesday when relative handfuls of health care providers and consumers turned out in Topeka for the first in a series of forums scheduled across the state.

The sparse turnout disappointed state officials and legislators who attended.

Kansas News Service/File photo

Federal officials this week approved a corrective plan for Kansas’ privately managed Medicaid program, easing pressure on the state before a year-end deadline.

As part of the plan, state officials agreed to keep track of the number of grievances and appeals they receive from Kansans in Medicaid who say they were denied appropriate services. That and other elements of the plan were outlined in a letter the state received Monday from James Scott, associate regional administrator for Medicaid and children’s health operations at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill aimed at addressing complaints from health care providers about KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Red tape, denied claims and late payments are among the major gripes.

The new law aims to fix those problems by requiring the private companies that manage KanCare to standardize some of their business practices, as well as establishing an external appeals process to resolve disputes.

Republican Sen. Barbara Bollier helped write the legislation.

File Photo/Kansas News Service

A third of the way to an end-of-year deadline, Kansas officials still do not have federal approval to extend KanCare.

In January, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied the state’s request for a one-year extension of the waiver that allowed it to privatize its Medicaid program. The denial letter said neither the Kansas Department of Health and Environment nor the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services was doing enough to hold the three private companies that run the program responsible for providing services accountable to Medicaid rules.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Several hundred people turned out Monday night to protest the possible closure of St. Francis Health in Topeka.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. April 3.

A motion to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility failed Monday in the Kansas House. The 81-44 vote was three short of the override total needed to send the bill to the Senate.

Kansas Office of the Governor

Supporters of expanding Medicaid eligibility in Kansas are preparing to mount an intense lobbying campaign over the weekend to get the votes they need to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of an expansion bill.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Updated Tuesday at 10:41 a.m.

Buoyed by the failure of Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Kansas Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to a Medicaid expansion bill in a 25-14 vote.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers are now a step away from what could be a showdown with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback on the political football issue of Medicaid expansion.

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday advanced an expansion bill to the full Senate for a vote supporters say will take place Monday.

“Hallelujah,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, immediately after the committee approved the bill on a voice vote with little debate.

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

Updated Thursday 11:06 a.m.

A dispute about the cost and potential benefits of expanding Medicaid eligibility heated up ahead of a Kansas Senate committee vote on a bill. The committee voted Thursday morning to send the expansion bill to the full Senate, which is expected to hold a vote Monday.

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