FAIRWAY – Kansas Medicaid leaders were still working Friday to determine how the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on federal health care might alter plans to overhaul state Medicaid programs.
Fewer than 24 hours before the high court upheld the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Coverage Act, Kansas Secretary of Health Robert Moser and other state officials named the three managed-care companies that would run Kansas’ $3 billion Medicaid plan.
The winners – specifically formed Kansas subsidiaries of UnitedHealthcare Services Inc., of Minneapolis. Minn.; Amerigroup Corp. in Virginia Beach, Va., and Centene Corp. in St. Louis - were among five companies vying to run the reorganized state Medicaid program, called KanCare.
The three companies bid for the KanCare work presuming their combined caseload would be about 350,000 low-income and elderly residents, or residents with disabilities. The caseload costs Kansas taxpayers about $3 billion annually in its traditional program, in which doctors and other providers bill the state for services performed.
The three companies, whose own profits from the plan will depend on the caseloads they assume, will save Kansas taxpayers about $673 million in state and federal dollars the first three years of the program, state Medicaid officials said Wednesday.
The court’s ruling scrambled Kansas’ Medicaid calculations.
The Affordable Care Act, as it was challenged in court, originally would have required Kansas to add 130,000 potential new Medicaid beneficiaries to its rolls, because their incomes fall below new higher poverty guidelines in the law. Kansas, or any other state that didn’t add those new beneficiaries, would lose all Medicaid funding.
The justices reduced those potentially harsh penalties, leaving Kansas and other states more freedom to avoid expanding their Medicaid programs.
What will Kansas do? Hard to tell.
“The Brownback administration continues to oppose ObamaCare and will not take any action to implement it,” said Sherriene Jones-Sontag, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s communications director. “This is now a political issue that will be resolved by the American people in the November elections.”
Moser’s Department of Health and Environment, which runs Kansas Medicaid programs, has not officially decided whether to expand the program, said Miranda Steele, the department’s information chief.
“But none of the (Affordable Care Act) provisions were considered in preparing the contracts,” Steele said.
Managed-care providers, facing potential caseloads almost 40 percent higher than expected, speak cautiously.
UnitedHealthcare “is ready to work collaboratively with the state of Kansas and health-care professionals in the community to provide quality care and innovative health programs for Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Nan Thayer Kartsonis, president of the UnitedHealthcare subsidiary joining KanCare.
Amerigroup spokeswoman Maureen McDonnell said in a written statement to Kansas Reporter: “We expect the state to utilize rate cell, risk adjustment and actuarial soundness standards in the development of new rates for the Medicaid expansion population.”
She did not say and could not be reached for further details on the company’s expectations.
No one from Centene Corp. returned calls Friday.