Lawmakers Debate Medicaid Management in Kentucky

Statewide Medicaid managed care is coming to Kentucky, but maybe not as fast as some lawmakers thought.

Governor Steve Beshear says the state can save millions of dollars by letting private health care organizations—rather than the Cabinet for Health and Family Services—manage services for the state’s 820,000 Medicaid recipients. The state has sent out a request for proposals from companies interested in bidding on the contract, and acting Medicaid Commissioner Neville Wise says proposals are under evaluation.

Some lawmakers aren’t convinced the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is up to the challenge of awarding the contract. Senator Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon points to a report by the staff of a legislative oversight committee he chairs and says many lawmakers have “expressed concerns that the cabinet is unprepared to take on the task of converting from fee-for-service to managed care. Whether it be inadequate administrative and financial oversight or basic lack of understanding of the program itself, many questions remain in our minds.”

Other lawmakers were under the impression statewide Medicaid managed care would begin on July 1st, the start of the state’s new fiscal year, but Wise could not make that guarantee. He says July 1st is the target date for contract signatures, with the state aiming to begin managed care “as soon as we can.”

Governor Beshear predicts that managed care for Medicaid recipients will save the state millions of dollars. The current state budget, which Beshear approved after vetoing language he didn’t like, depends on the projected savings.

By Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.