Gov. Sam Brownback’s privatization of Medicaid may be unstoppable, at least by the Legislature. But to their credit, key lawmakers in both parties have listened to constituents and plan to try to slow the implementation of KanCare in whole or in part during the wrap-up session that starts today. Now the governor needs to show he has similarly heard – and cares about – Kansans’ concerns.
The thinking behind KanCare overall is not the problem: Medicaid costs are consuming an ever-greater share of the state budget, and the proposed managed-care system overseen by three private insurers has the potential to better coordinate services and control the costs of health care for 385,000 Kansans who are poor or disabled.
But the administration’s effort, led by Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, seems like a lot of change at once, all set to kick in Jan. 1. Many people still doubt the administration can really save $850 million over five years without cutting patients’ care or providers’ fees. And there are a lot of issues to hammer out with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, which must approve a waiver for KanCare to proceed.
“The major concern is that it’s moving too fast and people are not ready,” said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.
That’s especially true for the loved ones of individuals with developmental disabilities, who don’t want the long-term, nonmedical care of this vulnerable population to be part of KanCare at all. Family members and providers have pleaded with the administration since early this year to exclude the developmentally disabled from KanCare. Toward that goal, they plan a “Don’t Gamble With Our Lives!” rally for 10:30 a.m. today at the Statehouse in Topeka.
There are good arguments for carving out care for the developmentally disabled entirely, including the lack of experience with such care among the insurance companies bidding for KanCare contracts. That is why more than 30 county commissions (not yet including Sedgwick County) have passed resolutions calling for the administration to exempt this population from KanCare.
At least two proposals to slow down KanCare are pending.
Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, is among those pressing for a six-month delay, until July 2013, for all of KanCare.
Meanwhile, The Eagle reported last week that House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, was working on a plan to delay the inclusion of long-term care for developmentally disabled within KanCare until January 2014. Other reports suggested Siegfreid’s proposal has the approval of the Brownback administration.
If so, that’s good news, allowing more time to think through at least the care of individuals with developmental disabilities. But more time for all of KanCare may be warranted, too.
The need for urgency doesn’t trump the need to get this right.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman