One of the three companies that administer KanCare co-hosted a fundraiser Wednesday for Republican members of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, opening a new chapter in the state’s move to privatized Medicaid.

The three managed care organizations the state contracted with in 2012 receive nearly all their revenue in Kansas from state and federal tax dollars.

One of the companies, Amerigroup, on Wednesday used some of that revenue to bolster the re-election campaigns of Republicans who control a committee charged with overseeing its performance.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

A group of case managers from Johnson County who work with Kansans with disabilities came to Topeka last month to air grievances about the state’s “health homes” initiative.

In the morning, several of them testified in front of the Robert G. (Bob) Bethell Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight.

Jillisa Washington

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is reviewing a waiting list for developmental disability services after counties reported discrepancies between how many residents they have waiting and how many are on the state’s list.

There are more than 3,000 Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) on the KDADS waiting list for Medicaid-covered support services meant to allow them to remain in their homes and communities rather than live in institutions.

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  Each month, according to the latest available data, roughly 225 KanCare beneficiaries file complaints about the care they’ve received or been denied. That’s a small percentage, considering that more than 400,000 Kansans depend on the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

The numbers also show that all but a handful of the complaints are resolved within 15 days.

State officials often cite the data when assuring legislators that KanCare, now in its third year, is meeting the needs of its beneficiaries.

Andy Marso/KHI News

  Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer was on hand Thursday for the unveiling of a book to educate children about interacting with people who have disabilities.

“Darby Boingg Has an Adventure and Meets a Person with Disabilities” features Boingg, a wallaby with human characteristics, who meets Ian, a young man in a motorized wheelchair.

Sunflower State Health Plan hosted the book signing at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. The event featured  author Michelle Bain and Ian Kuenzi, a Topekan with cerebral palsy who was her inspiration.

A federal whistleblower lawsuit alleging that one of the companies running KanCare ordered employees to shift KanCare members away from high-cost health care providers has been dismissed.

A one-sentence document filed Tuesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, said that the plaintiff, Jacqueline Leary, and the defendants, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc., its parent company Centene Corp. and three other parties, had stipulated to the dismissal. Each party was to bear its own costs and attorneys’ fees.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

A year ago there were almost 3,500 Kansans with physical disabilities awaiting Medicaid coverage for services to help them live in their homes and communities.

Much has changed in 12 months. The physical disability (PD) waiting list is down to fewer than 1,500 people, and Kari Bruffett, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, told members of the National Council on Disability who visited Topeka earlier this month that more reductions are coming.

The three companies that administer KanCare have donated more than $50,000 to the campaigns of current Kansas legislators since the $3 billion Medicaid program began in 2013.

Amerigroup leads the trio with $27,750 in donations, as of the most recent filings, which include donations through Dec. 31, 2014. Centene Management Corporation, the parent company of Sunflower State Health Plan, gave $17,250 in that time period. United for Health, the political action committee of United HealthCare, came in a distant third with $6,200 in campaign cash.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansans with disabilities make up about one-fourth of KanCare, the state’s managed care Medicaid model.

But they’re a vocal segment, and they and their advocates painted a picture Tuesday of a system struggling to provide them with the long-term supports they need to stay in their homes and communities rather than institutions.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Andrea Duarte-Rambo, a short, dark-haired woman from Johnson County, walked to the podium and commanded the attention of a full legislative hearing room as she began talking about her son’s traumatic brain injury.

Her son’s brothers hid the injury for fear of getting in trouble, Duarte-Rambo said. His undiagnosed condition led to unexplained mood swings and violent behavior, multiple inconclusive MRIs, treatment with antipsychotic medications that actually worsened his symptoms and a couple of trips to jail.

A federal judge has thrown out Centene Corp.’s abuse-of-process claim against a former employee who alleged she was fired after complaining about the managed care company’s business practices. 

Centene is the parent company of Sunflower State Health Plan Inc., one of three for-profit companies managing KanCare, Kansas’ privatized version of Medicaid.

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More than 389,000 Kansans and nearly 2 million Missourians were affected by last month’s massive cyberattack on Anthem Inc., the nation’s second largest health insurer, figures released by the company show.

“This data breach is so far-reaching that it impacts nearly one-third of our state’s population,” Missouri Department of Insurance Director John M. Huff said in a statement Monday.

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It’s likely that the records of some Kansas Medicaid recipients and Missouri Blue Cross and Blue Shield policyholders were compromised by a cyberattack on the Anthem health insurance company.

The breach was discovered last week but news of it wasn’t made public until Wednesday.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration outlined a sweeping budget plan Friday that includes changes to Medicaid and increases in the state’s tobacco and alcohol taxes.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said closing a $650 million budget gap will require new tax revenue and slowed expenses in the state’s “three major cost drivers”: public schools, public employee pensions and Medicaid.

“It is time to make additional changes to both better the care coordination of 400,000-plus members in Medicaid and, second, to further bend down the cost curve in Medicaid,” Sullivan said.

An incendiary lawsuit over the business practices of one of the companies running KanCare, the Brownback administration’s privatization of Kansas’ $3 billion Medicaid program, just got more explosive.

The company, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc., responded forcefully Monday to a lawsuit accusing it of unethical behavior, saying the plaintiff – an executive who was fired – was trying to extort it.

Republican members of a joint legislative committee say there’s no need to launch a state investigation into allegations that lobbyists connected to Gov. Sam Brownback engaged in “pay to play” deals involving KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat and member of the KanCare Oversight Committee, on Tuesday urged members to recommend the formation of an investigative committee in a report they’re preparing for legislative leaders.

State officials will need to find an additional $40 million to meet rising KanCare costs in the current budget year, according to caseload estimates compiled by the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department.

KanCare is the name of the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Also, an anticipated increase in the number of children in the foster care system will require an additional $10.2 million in state funding in the current budget year, which ends June 30.

KHI News Service

Dr. Robert Moser has resigned as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

His resignation will be effective at the end of the month.

Moser broke the news to the agency’s staff late Monday afternoon in an email.

“I am stepping down from my current position as KDHE secretary and state health officer effective the end of November,” Moser said.

Moser said “it was a hard decision” to leave the state’s public health and Medicaid agency.

“However, it is the right time for me and my family to look at other opportunities,” he said.

A lawsuit alleging that one of the for-profit companies running KanCare ordered employees to shift KanCare members away from high-cost providers has put a renewed spotlight on the program, one of the Brownback administration’s signature achievements.

In the lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., a former official of the company, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc., claimed she was fired after she objected to the directive, saying it was unethical and possibly illegal.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service


About 6 percent of eligible adults took advantage of new dental coverage offered under KanCare in the first year of the managed care Medicaid program.

The switch to managed care Medicaid administered by three private companies extended basic dental cleanings to more than 130,000 adults ages 19 to 64.

According to Kansas Department of Health and Environment statistics, about 7,600 adults had a cleaning paid for by one of the managed care companies in 2013.

Dave Ranney / KHI News Service



Parents of adult children with developmental disabilities say state officials are breaking a pledge made during negotiations last year that led legislators to include Medicaid-funded home- and community-based services for the developmentally disabled in the state's KanCare program.

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis says if elected, he will reverse Gov. Sam Brownback’s controversial decision to put the private companies managing the state’s Medicaid program in charge of delivering support services to Kansans with developmental disabilities.

Brownback, a conservative Republican seeking a second term, privatized the state’s $3 billion Medicaid program in 2013 and renamed it KanCare to achieve two — and some say conflicting — goals of improving care and reducing costs.

A former state senator confirmed Thursday that he was contacted by FBI agents looking into allegations of “pay-to-play” deals in state government.

Dick Kelsey, a Republican who represented the Goddard area until 2012, said the FBI questions centered on David Kensinger, a longtime political adviser and former chief of staff for Gov. Sam Brownback.

“The FBI called me,” Kelsey said. “They wanted to talk to me and did a number of times, along with an in-person, two-hour interview. The investigation is very real.”

The top Democrats on the KanCare Oversight Committee on Monday called for a separate committee to be appointed to study whether any legal or ethical boundaries were crossed when Gov. Sam Brownback's administration contracted with three managed care organizations to privatize Medicaid.

Fifteen medical-related political action committees registered with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission had a total of almost $600,000 cash on hand at the July 24 reporting deadline, and officials from the top PACs said they're still forming the legislative agendas that may inform how they spend that money.

RELATED: Kansas Medical PACs Concentrate Spending On Incumbents

The three private insurance companies that administer the Kansas Medicaid program under KanCare lost $72.6 million in the first half of 2014, after losing $110 million in 2013.

Rep. Jim Ward, a member of a KanCare oversight committee who requested the fiscal information from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, on Tuesday questioned how long the three companies can sustain such losses.

"These companies can’t keep subsidizing Medicaid to the tune of $100 or $150 million per year, and that’s what’s happening,” said Ward, a Wichita Democrat.

Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor, said Tuesday that if elected he would order a "top-to-bottom" review of KanCare.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback spearheaded KanCare, which places the state's 400,000 Medicaid recipients under the administration of three private insurance companies, also known as managed care organizations (MCOs).

The governor has said the program is on track to meet its goal of saving the state $1 billion over five years through care coordination without cutting services, eligibility or provider payments.

The state’s privatization of Medicaid is complicating efforts to detect fraud and abuse, according to a recently released report from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office.

The 2014 annual report from the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Division says the three private companies managing the state’s $3 billion Medicaid program — called KanCare — are not providing all the information needed for the state to conduct investigations.

Andy Marso / KHI News Service

The rural hospital that Dr. Roger Warren leads in Hanover, Kan., is owed about $140,000 by the three insurance companies the state contracted with to administer Medicaid. And as he walks the halls, Warren is able to point out exactly what that money means to his full-service medical clinic.

Whoever emerges as the top candidate from a crowded field of applicants for the state’s Medicaid inspector general post likely will be vetted more carefully than in the past.

Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will conduct a background check of the candidate before he or she is appointed.

“It’s something that we’re going to require before extending the contract,” he said.