Savings in KanCare may aid disabled

Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration said Friday that its privatization of some Medicaid services – known as KanCare – is saving more money than expected, and that some of that cash could reduce the list of people with physical disabilities who have been waiting for services.

Estimates released Friday show the state projects its human-service caseload, which also includes welfare payments and out-of-home placement of juvenile offenders, will decline by $129 million in state and federal money by the 2015 fiscal year compared to Brownback’s budget proposal.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said the additional savings in KanCare comes from a wide variety of changes, including people using fewer services. About $11 million of the savings comes from stricter rules for getting welfare.

Colyer said the administration plans to present a plan to lawmakers that would apply that money to long waiting lists for people with disabilities, including autism, as well as the expansion of the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.

“We want to spend some of those savings on taking people off of those waiting lists,” he said.

It’s not clear how many people on the state’s waiting lists may get services, he said.

Currently, 2,901 people with intellectual disabilities are waiting for services, and there are 2,642 people with physical disabilities awaiting services, according the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Kansas has been sharply criticized for its waiting lists for years, and the Department of Justice began investigating the long waits last year as a possible violation of civil rights.

Brownback’s administration estimates that KanCare will save $1 billion over five years. The savings announced Friday comes in addition to that.

But the savings come as some patients and pharmacists continue to struggle with the transition from the state’s public Medicaid system to the new system, which is managed by three private companies that each have roughly a third of the state’s enrollees. Those companies include Amerigroup, Sunflower and United Healthcare.