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Kansas Touts Medicaid Program The Same Week As Critical Federal Report

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Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer speaking at a rural health working group last month.

Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer has been in Washington this week attending inaugural events, but he’s also been speaking to members of Congress about the state’s privatized Medicaid program, known as KanCare. In a statement Friday, Colyer called KanCare a model for other states looking to overhaul Medicaid services.

That struck a nerve with the top Democrat in the Kansas House. Minority Leader Jim Ward points to a letter this week from the federal government that listed problems in KanCare. The feds also denied Kansas an extension of its privatized version of Medicaid.

“I’m really concerned if the lieutenant governor’s up there peddling KanCare, that they are not going to take these concerns seriously,” Ward says.

A spokesperson for the governor, Melika Willoughby, says it makes sense for Colyer to be talking to Congress about KanCare.

“With a new administration in Washington there is renewed interest in working with the individual states rather than against them, and it’s important for Kansas to be a part of those conversations sitting at the table,” Willoughby says.

The letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says Kansas hasn’t done enough to keep Medicaid contractors in compliance with federal rules.

Lt. Gov. Colyer thinks the letter is “politically motivated” and calls it a “parting shot” against Kansas from the outgoing Obama administration.

Medicaid provides health care services for low-income people and people with disabilities.