In most of the states seeking to go their own way on Medicaid expansion, governors are leading the negotiations with the federal government. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, it’s a different story in Kansas.
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.
The three private companies contracted to manage Medicaid services through KanCare lost money in the program's first year. That's according to a report released this week.
The total losses between the companies come to more than $100 million. Representative Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, is concerned that could lead to cost increases, service reductions or the companies eventually pulling out of the program altogether.
"Will they leave?" Ward asks. "And if they do leave, what impact will that have on the people who depend on Medicaid for services?"
A federal board that studies disability issues has been meeting in Topeka.
The National Council on Disability advises Congress and the president on matters affecting Americans with disabilities.
Gary Blumenthal is a member of the council and a former Kansas legislator. He says the group chose to meet in Kansas because of policies affecting people with disabilities, like the state's overhauled Medicaid program now managed by private companies.