© 2021 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Brownback Describes Medicaid Backlog As 'Frustrating'

Dave Ranney, File Photo
Heartland Health Monitor

Gov. Sam Brownback said he's disappointed that the state's backlog in unprocessed Medicaid applications is four times as large as previously thought.

As Kansas and a contractor battle over who bears blame for the error, Brownback called the situation "frustrating" in a short interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal.

The number of unprocessed Medicaid applications had been about 3,500 people before the state acknowledged earlier this month that the actual figure was more than 15,000.

Brownback reiterated to the newspaper the steps the state is taking to whittle down the backlog, such as retaining temporary employees who had been slated for release. He also defended the state's privatized Medicaid program, known as KanCare, which started in the governor's first term and had the state enter into large contracts with several companies to provide managed care.

"KanCare has overall worked very well," Brownback said. "Not that it hasn't had difficulties, but overall I've been very pleased with the program, but this is something we thought we were getting the number down much faster we're getting the number down, but it's not as fast as it needs to go."

Kansas has been working for several years on an electronic eligibility system, though the project has seen delays and cost overruns. In the past year, the state moved some program administration to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which operates a "clearinghouse" facility in Topeka to wade through Medicaid applications. The backlog in unprocessed applications arose after difficulties with that transition.

Kansas has told federal officials the previous low backlog figure came because of an error by Accenture, the company Kansas contracted for the electronic eligibility system. Accenture disputes that claim by the state, saying in a statement that it never provided the state with inaccurate data.

"Accenture continues to meet all of our contractual obligations for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment," the company said last week. "We did not provide KDHE with inaccurate information."

Kansas has said it will withhold a $750,000 payment to Accenture over misreporting of the backlog.