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.

Two Democrats in the Kansas Legislature want it to investigate how Republican Governor Sam Brownback's administration awarded contracts to private companies to manage the state's Medicaid program.

Senator Laura Kelly of Topeka and Representative Jim Ward of Wichita had a Statehouse news conference yesterday to call on legislative leaders to authorize an investigation.

However, Senate President Susan Wagle called the move an attempt to distort the truth ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

Wagle says the process for awarding the contracts was transparent.

A new study by the White House Council of Economic Advisors says the decision not to expand Medicaid is costing Kansas millions of dollars, and thousands of jobs.

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?"

Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he will ask Kansas legislators to strengthen the state's penalties for Medicaid fraud.

Schmidt outlined his proposal on Thursday during a stop in Wichita.

He says his office gained 15 criminal convictions and recovered $33.7 million dollars in the latest fiscal year from people guilty of defrauding the program.

Schmidt is proposing higher fines for the crime.

He also wants people convicted of Medicaid fraud to serve prison time instead of the current sentence of probation.

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.

A legislative oversight committee is meeting on Monday to hear a status report on changes made to the state's Medicaid program.

The state contracted with three private managed-care organizations earlier this year; they administer Medicaid programs for the poor, elderly, and disabled.

The Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight will hear from groups that represent developmentally disabled and community-based service providers.

A Kansas group is gearing up to push again for an expansion of the state's Medicaid program as encouraged by the federal health care overhaul, despite strong opposition from Republican legislators.

Kan. Plans Events On Medicaid Changes For Disabled

Sep 17, 2013

Kansas officials have scheduled four meetings next week to discuss how people with disabilities will be affected when they're included in an overhaul of the state's Medicaid program.

The Department for Aging and Disability Services says the meetings are intended for physically and developmentally disabled Kansans, their families and groups that provided services. The sessions will give those parties a chance to ask questions about the overhaul.