Lawmakers Debate Medicaid Management in Kentucky

by Tony McVeigh on June 9, 2011

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.

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