Kansas Officials: Agency Changes to Improve Services

Brownback’s administration is reviewing bids from five companies that are all based outside Kansas or are affiliates or subsidiaries of out-of-state companies. The administration plans to issue three contracts this summer, with each company operating statewide so Medicaid participants have a choice of managed-care coverage.

Most of the 385,000 Kansans receiving state medical assistance have managed-care coverage through private contractors, but the overhauled Medicaid program, to be called KanCare, would be the first time Kansas has brought the disabled and elderly, including those in nursing homes, into such a system. An increased number of Kansans needing relatively expensive long-term care (LTC) services would be covered by managed care.

Legislators reconvene April 25, and advocates are expected to push lawmakers to “carve out” services for the developmentally disabled from the KanCare contracts. Advocates persuaded the Shawnee County Commission to adopt a resolution Thursday asking Brownback to reconsider the overhaul, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said the news conference with the governor, three cabinet secretaries and Colyer, the architect of the Medicaid plan, shows Brownback’s administration understands it still faces a “hard sales job.”

“There’s a lot of skepticism about this whole issue,” Hensley said.

The reorganization will move oversight of the state’s five hospitals for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled from SRS to the Department on Aging, along with other services for the disabled and mentally ill. The Department on Aging also will take over some regulatory functions from the health department.

It will become the Department on Aging and Disability Services. The health department will oversee Medicaid’s financial management, and SRS will become the Department of Children and Families.

SRS Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said that as part of its new, narrower focus, reorganized her department will seek to hire at least 20 additional social workers to help children in troubled families.

Colyer said: “The point of this is focus, and so what we’re trying to do is focus on core missions.”

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