Government & Politics

Federal officials approve extension for Kansas’ $3 billion KanCare program

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer in January called the Obama administration’s decision to deny the extension “an ugly parting shot” and predicted that the state would have better luck with President Donald Trump’s administration.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer in January called the Obama administration’s decision to deny the extension “an ugly parting shot” and predicted that the state would have better luck with President Donald Trump’s administration. AP

Federal officials have granted Kansas a one-year extension on its privatized Medicaid program, removing the uncertainty the state faced when outgoing Obama administration officials denied the extension earlier this year.

Kansas privatized its Medicaid system in 2013, turning over the daily administration of the program, which provides health coverage to low-income and disabled Kansans, to three private insurance companies. The $3 KanCare billion program is paid for through a combination of state and federal funds.

Federal officials have agreed to extend the program through the end of 2018, Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration announced Monday.

During President Barack Obama’s last month in office, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services denied the state’s request to extend the program through 2018 after federal officials criticized the state for a lack of oversight of the program, which federal auditors said had put patients’ lives at risk. The state submitted a correction plan to federal officials earlier this year.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, the program’s architect, called the Obama administration’s decision to deny the extension “an ugly parting shot” in January and predicted that the state would have better luck with President Donald Trump’s administration.

Colyer, who is preparing to take the reins of state government if Brownback is confirmed for an ambassadorship, celebrated the news of the extension, which removes any lingering doubt about whether the program can continue to function past December.

“Our focus on outcomes for patients is resulting in better all-around care for patients across the state,” Colyer said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to take an innovative and conservative approach to healthcare that controls costs and results in better health outcomes for Kansans.”

Sean Gatewood, co-administrator of the KanCare Advocates Network, a group that represents patients and healthcare providers, said he was glad that the extension was granted. However, Gatewood said that the “state needs to now work on addressing the foundational problems” with the program over the next year.

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3

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