Jim Ward: Brownback administration is in denial about KanCare

10/23/2013 12:00 AM

10/22/2013 5:33 PM

Denial is never a good strategy for solving problems, and it’s clear the Brownback administration is into heavy denial when it comes to the state’s low-income health program, KanCare.

Last year the Brownback administration turned over the $3 billion state health care program for the poor to three for-profit insurance companies, and the clear, documented, negative effects of that change are something the administration apparently doesn’t want to talk about (“KanCare indicators are good,” Oct. 15 Opinion).

The problems center on four major areas: slow payments to providers for legitimate medical services; increased paperwork and cost for providers seeking reimbursements; confusing, inconsistent and inaccurate payments (providers bill for one service and get paid for another); reduced level of care for patients.

We only have to look locally to two of our biggest hospitals for examples of these problems.

Wesley Medical Center has seen a huge increase in denied claims that previously had been routinely paid.

At the end of July, about $1.6 million owed Wesley by KanCare remained unpaid. Via Christi Health’s unpaid Medicaid bills more than 90 days old have increased 48 percent under KanCare.

The problem is even more severe for small rural hospitals that depend heavily on Medicaid money. Prompt payment of claims or lack of it can mean keeping their doors open or not.

The bad news continues. The Kansas Medical Society reports that doctors are having greater problems getting paid, have more claims being denied, and are swamped with paperwork that is at best confusing and unnecessary. Advocates for elderly Kansans cite delays in payments and serious problems with payment for hospice care.

Sadly, this all adds up to a system that is struggling, where providers don’t get paid, and Medicaid’s clients in Kansas are being denied legitimate health care services.

If KanCare is to meet its goal of improved outcomes in the health care provided to children, elderly and our most vulnerable neighbors, the administration has to stop denying there are problems and get to work on the changes needed for it to work.

Rep. JIM WARD

District 86, Kansas House

Wichita

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