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Some advocates for seniors and Kansans with disabilities are calling for changes in the state’s privatized Medicaid program. As Jim McLean of the Kansas Health Institute reports, they want a more independent process for resolving disputes over services.

More from Dave Ranney at the Heartland Health Monitor.

A recent ruling by a federal appeals court could affect whether some elderly and disabled Kansans continue to receive the services they need to remain in their homes and stay out of nursing facilities.

This is another case that pitted the Obama administration against states led by conservative Republicans.

Jim McLean

Advocates for Kansans with disabilities say the state's privatized Medicaid system is too often failing the people it's supposed to serve. They aired their complaints yesterday during a hearing in Topeka, hosted by the National Council on Disability.

They say the for-profit companies running the KanCare program seem more interested in saving money than providing needed services.

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

When the 2015 legislative session started in January, public health advocates had reason to be optimistic they could reach some of their most ambitious goals.

The Kansas Hospital Association was ramping up efforts to expand Medicaid coverage to about 100,000 uninsured Kansans with the political implications of the 2014 election over.

Newly re-elected Gov. Sam Brownback had proposed to almost triple the state cigarette tax — a prospect that won quick support from groups that fight cancer and heart disease.

The job of inspector general for the state's managed care Medicaid program has been open for nearly a year.

The post has been empty since Phil Hermanson resigned in June 2014, just months after he was hired to lead KanCare, an umbrella program for three private managed health care companies.

The lack of a leader for the $3 billion program has drawn attention from lawmakers.

January of 2013, Kansas turned the management of its $3 billion Medicaid program over to three big, for-profit companies and renamed it KanCare.

At the time, Governor Sam Brownback said privatizing Medicaid would both reduce costs and improve the care provided to low-income, disabled and elderly Kansans. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, more than a year after KanCare's launch, questions remain about how well it's working.

Find more information here about KanCare and how its working.

Health officials say none of the state's KanCare providers met benchmarks for timeliness in claims processing during 2013.

The state set a goal to have all claims without mistakes processed in 20 days and all claims processed in 60 days.

An August report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the state's three KanCare providers - Amerigroup, Sunflower Health and United Healthcare - failed to meet that benchmark in any month last year.

The state’s new inspector general for KanCare can’t conduct oversight work until he is confirmed by the Kansas Senate, which isn’t in session.

Phil Hermanson began work in April as inspector general. His job is to identify fraud in the state’s new privately-run Medicaid system known as KanCare.

The former Kansas House member has no investigatory or auditing expertise, a DUI conviction and business bankruptcy, and personal finance and campaign ethics problems.


Questions are being raised about a former legislator’s credentials for a top job in the Brownback administration. Jim McClean of the KHI News Service has details.

Gov.  Sam Brownback is making a major push to improve the state’s mental health system. The governor's plan creates a behavioral health sub-cabinet within state government, targets substance abuse for its role in exacerbating mental illness, and increases financial investment in current treatment programs, among other things.