Opinion Columns & Blogs

Why KEES went so terribly wrong

The state’s new Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System (KEES) has been a disaster. The Brownback administration announced the $188 million project in 2011 to replace the paper-based system for enrolling in Medicaid, which could take up to 45 days. The new online system was supposed to reduce enrollment to a day or two. But in addition to the system being millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, the enrollment times have gotten worse – with delays of up to five months. That has caused financial hardship on nursing homes and endangered the health of some patients. What’s more, thousands of poor Kansans have mistakenly been denied Medicaid coverage because of glitches in the system, Kansas Health Institute News Service reported. Though there has been a lot of fingerpointing about who is to blame, internal e-mails and documents obtained by KHI News Service reveal a project plagued by miscommunication, internal strife, changing deadlines and staffing problems. The KEES problems were compounded by a Brownback administration reorganization plan that funneled all Medicaid applications through a single clearinghouse in Topeka, which resulted in a bottleneck that the administration was slow to address. – Phillip Brownlee