© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kansas Delays KanCare Changes Amid Federal Uncertainty

File photo
Kansas News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration has requested a one-year extension of the current KanCare program while delaying a proposal for an updated version of the Medicaid managed care system.

KanCare, which placed all 425,000 Kansans in Medicaid under the administration of three private insurance companies, began in 2013 and is scheduled to expire at the end of 2017.

State officials had planned to make changes to the current contracts and then apply for a long-term extension of KanCare with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the beginning of 2017.

But ina Twitter post on Thursday, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said that the state had renewed the current contracts and would not request updated bids until late next year.

He suggested the change was due tothe uncertainty of what Donald Trump’s electionas president — and Republican control of Congress — will mean for state Medicaid programs.

“Time will bring clarity from (Washington) D.C.,” Colyer said on Twitter.

He later added a Twitter poststating that Trump has proposed sending Medicaid money to states as block grants, free of CMS regulations.

“This is a great opportunity for Kansas and KanCare,” Colyer posted. 

Colyer’s spokeswoman, Laura McCabe, confirmed in an email Friday that the state had requested that CMS extend the current KanCare contracts one year until the end of 2018.

Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for state agencies that oversee Medicaid, said in an email that the state had not received official approval from CMS to extend the current KanCare model one year, but nothing in the conversations with federal officials has suggested they will reject the request.

Rep. Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican who chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee, said delaying a KanCare revamp was prudent given the federal upheaval.   

He said the flexibility of block grants could allow the state to write in all kinds of changes to the KanCare contracts that weren’t options before — like coverage of direct primary care with monthly fees rather than fees for service.

“I’m hoping a block grant system does come in,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said he was confident federal officials will approve the one-year KanCare extension, which would give the state time to see what changes the Trump administration will make and respond accordingly.

Andy Marso is a reporter for KHI News Service in Topeka, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team. You can reach him on Twitter @andymarso

Andy Marso is a reporter for KCUR 89.3 and the Kansas News Service based in Topeka.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.