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Eagle editorial: KanCare still a concern

  • Published Friday, Sep. 6, 2013, at 12 a.m.

It’s not only individuals who have had problems with KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. So have Wichita’s largest hospitals.

Hugh Tappan, chief executive of Wesley Medical Center, said his hospital’s contested claims increased more than fourfold after KanCare launched Jan. 1, the Kansas Health Institute News Service reported. In April, May, June and July 2012, Wesley averaged $71,800 a month in disputed Medicaid claims; now it is averaging $331,000 a month.

Via Christi Health has had similar problems, seeing a nearly 50 percent increase in Medicaid claims that remained unpaid 90 days or more.

“Despite the ongoing communications and efforts being made by all parties, it continues to be a struggle to get timely and accurate payments for Medicaid accounts,” David Hadley, Via Christi’s chief financial officer, told KHI.

Other hospitals and pharmacies have had similar problems. Steve Kelly, chief executive of Newton Medical Center, complained earlier this summer about the amount of time it takes to get prior approvals for patient services.

State officials have characterized such problems as “bumps in the road,” and say they have been working to address payment issues. Some bumps are to be expected for such a large undertaking.

Still, before its launch, the big worry about KanCare was that the private insurance companies would earn their profits by making the system difficult to access and by being slow to pay bills. Eight months later, that’s still a concern.

For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee

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