Kansas Gov. Brownback unveils Medicaid overhaul

Following a months-long public input process, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced this week a plan to reform the state’s Medicaid program through an integrated, person-centered care system called KanCare.

In a statement, Brownback said the reform plan is based on three criteria: improving quality of care, controlling costs of the Medicaid program and generating long-lasting reforms that “improve the quality of health and wellness of Kansans.”

In addition, the state is putting an emphasis on home- and community-based services as alternatives to institutional care, and KanCare will “incentivize nursing facilities through a focused shared savings programs to diversify and build alternative HCBS capacity,” according to an executive summary.

“Kansas currently has the sixth highest percentage of seniors living in nursing homes in the country,” the summary read. “Including institutional and long-term care in person-centered care coordination means KanCare contractors will take on the risk and responsibility for ensuring that individuals are receiving services in the most appropriate setting.”

Brownback expects the program to net significant saving through improved care coordination and outcomes. Over five years, the state anticipates reduced growth in Kansas Medicaid spending by 8-10 percent, which equates to a one-third reduction in total Medicaid growth, and should achieve savings of $853 million during that timeframe.

According to the governor’s statement, KanCare will improve coordination of care without reducing Medicaid benefits or eligibility, “while safeguarding reimbursement for providers.” As part of this Medicaid reform, Brownback is proposing a realignment of state agencies to more efficiently administer the newly integrated KanCare, and focus a separate agency solely on services for children and families.

The state will submit a request for proposal to coordinate all aspects of behavioral and physical health, as well as services for the aged and disabled. An advisory group, consisting of Kansas seniors and persons with disabilities, will be created to provide counsel on policy decisions.

The realignment of state agencies includes reconfiguring the Kansas Department on Aging, which will combine with the Division of Disabilities and Behavioral Health Services from Social and Rehabilitation Services, which includes HCBS waivers. The Kansas Department on Aging will then become the Department for Aging and Human Services.

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