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Lawmakers Negotiating Final Version Of Bill To Reduce KanCare Drug Costs

Jim McLean
Heartland Health Monitor

Finding a way to balance the state budget is job one for Kansas lawmakers in the final weeks of the legislative session. But dozens of other bills remain in play, including one aimed at lowering KanCare costs by limiting patient access to expensive drugs.

The so-called “step therapy” bill requires health care providers to start Medicaid patients on less expensive drugs and then justify the reasons if they want to step up to more expensive medications. The companies that manage KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, are backing the bill. But mental health providers and patient advocates are have strong concerns about it.

Members a conference committee working on a final version of the bill have added some patient protection language that could make it easier for providers to justify more expensive drugs.

The bill is a priority for Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and lawmakers working to erase a projected budget shortfall, because it’s expected to reduce KanCare costs by about $10 million a year.