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Thursday, October 31, 2013

KansCare is bad for the health of Kansas

Governor Sam Brownback has tried to privatize almost everything the Kansas Government is supposed to do and while the Barack Obama administration has encouraged the expansion of state sponsored Medicaid, he has tried to do the opposite by cutting it and privatizing it.
He calls it KanCare and there are already many critics complaining that services for those who need it can’t count on the program to pay for medical expenses they incur. The KanCare system includes the choice of three different insurance companies. The patient can choose one of those to take care of their needs.
Just recently Kansas House Representative Jim Ward wrote to The Wichita Eagle;
Last year the Brownback administration turned over the $3 billion state health care program for the poor to three for-profit insurance companies, and the clear, documented, negative effects of that change are something the administration apparently doesn’t want to talk about (“KanCare indicators are good,” Oct. 15 Opinion).
The problems center on four major areas: slow payments to providers for legitimate medical services; increased paperwork and cost for providers seeking reimbursements; confusing, inconsistent and inaccurate payments (providers bill for one service and get paid for another); reduced level of care for patients.

As an example Ward pointed out that Wesley Medical Center has seen a major increase in denied medical claims that used to be routinely paid. By the end of July of last year, KanCare had not paid for $1.6 million owed to Wesley. He said Via Christi had medical bills that were unpaid more than 90 days and such occurrences had increased 48 percent under KanCare. He said these changes have hurt rural hospitals and put many at risk for closing.
Ward is not the only critic of KanCare. Hugh Tappan, chief executive of Wesley Medical Center, told KHI News Service; the center’s administrative costs this year have been higher due to the increased rate of disputed claims filed with the state’s KanCare managed care companies, which means fewer or stalled payments for the medical center’s services….
Tappan said since KanCare’s launch Wesley’s amount of contested Medicaid claims had grown more than four-fold over the same period in 2012. In April, May, June, and July of 2012, he said, Wesley averaged about $71,800 a month in disputed Medicaid claims. The corresponding monthly average since KanCare started has been $331,000 a month.
Another problem with KanCare has been the tendency to drop paying for people’s prescriptions that they rely on. A Topeka mother Jill Bronaugh has a son, Nicholas, who has cerebral palsy and other serious health concerns. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal Bronaugh fought a two-week battle to restore coverage of two of Nicholas' prescriptions after being dropped without warning by her KanCare managed care organization, Sunflower State Health Plan.
One of the prescriptions was for Nexium to treat his severe acid reflux and vomiting. Bronaugh said her son had surgery to attach a portion of his esophagus to his stomach. In most cases that stops the vomiting, but Nicholas is one of the 10 percent who have such a procedure and still manage to vomit.
So once again, Brownback has proven himself incompetent as a governor and his ideas are backward and bad for the state. Why would someone try to privatize a system set up to help the indigent and those too sick to work, in order to make a profit? It amounts to trying to profit off of the most vulnerable and destitute people in our society. The only way to make a profit is to provide less than adequate service and find ways to deny customers, badly needed health care. While a working person who isn’t sick or down on their luck can shop around for healthcare those at the bottom of society really can’t. Outside of the three providers they are stuck.
KanCare is a bad idea that simply needs to be repealed. This is one more example of the “war on Kansans’ poor” by our governor.

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