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Kansas Governor Tackles Medicaid Challenges, Implements KanCare


Kansas Medicaid costs have grown at an annual rate of 7.4% over the past decade, causing strain to the already small budget of the state’s health insurance program for low-income families and the disabled. Governor Sam Brownback, Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer MD and a group of cabinet members have taken on the challenge to reform Medicaid, not only to establish financial sustainability, but also to bring back positive outcomes such as quality care.

About 350,000 Kansas residents are on Medicaid and it is one of the largest and fastest-growing expenditures in the state government, accounting for nearly $2.8 billion in overall spending. Over the next five years, Gov. Brownback hopes that his plan will save more than $350 million.

In an executive summary released by the Kansas Office of the Governor yesterday, Gov. Brownback notes that, historically, Kansas Medicaid has focused primarily on costs, not on quality and outcomes. Investment should be given to promote areas of prevention, care coordination, and evidence-based practice.

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The Governor will be seeking a global waiver from the federal government to maximize flexibility in administering the Medicaid Program for the benefit of Kansas residents. The task force will also implement reforms that will accomplish both positive outcomes and reduced costs such as integrated whole-person care, preserving or creating a path to independence, and creating alternative access models and emphasizing home and community-based services.

The Person-Centered Care program will be named “KanCare.” Private companies would be asked to tender bids for contracts to manage care for some Medicaid recipients. The contracts would include financial incentives to reduce costs and improve health. The system is expected to begin operating at the start of the state’s fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2012.

The program also hopes to achieve increasing opportunities for those 2000 disabled Kansans on Medicaid to return to work. An enhanced “Medicaid to Work” program will include collaboration with the Department of Commerce to match potential workers with employers.

"The goal is to get them better care," says Lt. Gov Colyer. "So instead of ending up at a hospital six times in a year, maybe they're only in the hospital three or four times - and we can make sure that we're saving money that way, through better outcomes."

Source: Kansas Office of the Governor