Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced a major overhaul of his state’s Medicaid program this week that would put nearly all Medicaid recipients into private, managed-care plans, Kaiser Health News and Kansas Public Radio report.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a physician and the administration’s point person on the Medicaid reform effort, predicted the changes could slow the growth in Medicaid spending by nearly one percent a year. That would save the state more than $350 million over the next five years and would save the federal government $500 million at the same time.
It’s not a big switch for low-income Kansas families, who are already in private plans. But elderly and disabled Kansans receive care through a fee-for-service system and will have to switch.
The state has drafted a request for proposals from private contractors willing to provide comprehensive health, mental-health, and long-term health care services at a fixed per-person rate. State officials say they expect to select three vendors, who will compete for clients.
“The goal is to get them better care, so instead of ending up at the hospital six times in a year, maybe they’re only in the hospital three or four times, and we can make sure that we are saving money that way, through better outcomes,” said Colyer, also a Republican.
Officials said they also intend to emphasize the use of home and community-based services, which historically have been less costly than the institutional care provided in nursing homes and hospitals.
Anna Lambertson, head of the nonprofit Kansas Health Consumer Coalition, likes the emphasis on health outcomes, but wants to see what actually materializes.
“The devil is really in the details. When I see the details of the RFP and the details of the contract, I think we’ll know a lot more about how that notion will truly be implemented.”
Lambertson says from a consumer perspective, managed care is not as important as care management.
“We want individuals with chronic conditions—who we know constitute a significant majority of our Medicaid costs, of our health care costs—we want those folks to have access to effective, consumer-friendly care management," to navigate the health care system, she said.