The consumer ratings company J.D. Power backtracked Monday on a report that said KanCare ranked last among 36 privatized state Medicaid programs.
The company said it did not survey enough Kansans for a statistically significant result and apologized.
According to a KanCare spokeswoman, J.D. Power surveyed just 10 people about KanCare. The program serves about 400,000.
“Ten people is not a valid sample of anything,” said spokeswoman Angela de Rocha, who had raised questions about the survey’s sample when it was first released.
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In a statement released by J.D. Power public relations specialist John Roderick, the company said it should not have included Delaware, Kansas, Mississippi, Utah, and Virginia in the state-by-state rankings due to small sample size.
“Data points associated with insufficient sample sizes are subject to fluctuation and are therefore not statistically significant,” the statement said. “They should not have been included in the original version of the press release. We have re-issued a corrected press release and we apologize for any confusion this error may have caused.”
The original J.D. Power news release issued last week said it had surveyed 2,145 people nationwide to compile the rankings, but did not specify how many from each state.
The Star requested a copy of the full survey results, but a company representative said they were “proprietary information” and would not be provided.
A copy of the survey methodology given to the Star Monday morning by de Rocha showed that on KanCare, J.D. Power questioned just 10 people.
Of the 10 KanCare enrollees who responded, three were covered by UnitedHealthcare, three were covered by Amerigroup and four were covered by Sunflower State Health Plan (a subsidiary of Centene).
KanCare has been controversial since Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration contracted with the three insurance companies to administer all of the state’s Medicaid services starting in 2013.
Most states had contracted out some portions of their Medicaid programs by then, but Kansas was the first state to go all in with privatization.
Brownback administration officials have touted the switch as a success story that has reduced state Medicaid costs by $1 billion while improving health outcomes. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a plastic surgeon from Johnson County and Brownback’s KanCare point person, has held it up as a model for other states.
Colyer, in a statement released Monday, said KanCare has improved health outcomes by increasing primary care check-ups and decreasing hospitals stays.
“The health of Kansans has been our first priority from the day the state launched KanCare,” Colyer said, adding that the program’s scores improve each year on a consumer satisfaction survey conducted by federal contractors.
But a report published last November by the Leavitt Partners consulting firm determined that KanCare had delivered on the cost savings, but not the quality metrics.
Two months later, CMS denied the state’s request to extend KanCare, saying it was out of compliance with some federal regulations and the state had not provided enough oversight of the three insurance companies.
The CMS denial came in the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administration, and Colyer called it “politically motivated.” The state has reapplied for the extension and is awaiting word from President Donald Trump’s administration.