health insurance

Aetna Better Health is struggling to keep its Medicaid contract with KanCare, to the point that state officials found fault with Aetna’s recent plan to improve services.

But Kansas lawmakers had two words this week for the company: Keep trying.

TOPEKA — Aetna is bringing in new leadership to run its Medicaid operations in Kansas after chronic complaints from hospitals and others put it at risk of losing its contract.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Friday that Aetna Better Health of Kansas CEO Keith Wisdom is no longer in that role. But the insurer declined to answer questions about whether it had replaced Wisdom.

TOPEKA ― Aetna remains in hot water with the state of Kansas, which recently threatened to cancel the company’s Medicaid contract.

TOPEKA ― State officials have told one of the key players in Kansas’ privatized Medicaid system that it stands in danger of getting fired for not living up to its contract.

Aetna Better Health has until Wednesday to tell state officials how it is addressing chronic complaints about delayed payments to hospitals and other problems.

A formal letter from the state to Aetna says failure to fix the problems so far means the company’s contract “is in jeopardy of being terminated for cause.”

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

A Kansas commission voted Monday to give state employees a break on health insurance rates after they endured years of significant increases.

In a recent national survey, farmers said the biggest threat to their livelihoods wasn’t low commodity prices or global trade policies. It was the rising cost of health insurance.

It’s one of the reasons why state farm bureaus have jumped into the insurance game in Iowa, Tennessee and Nebraska, and are trying to in Kansas.

Even as it seeks to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional, the Trump administration on Monday reported that about 11.4 million people signed up for coverage in 2019 on the act’s state- and federally run exchanges.

That represents a dip from about 11.8 million in 2018, defying fears of a more precipitous drop after the Trump Administration cut promotion and outreach efforts and Congress eliminated the tax penalty for not having coverage.

The word audacious has a double meaning.

Depending on whom you talk to, either definition might apply to the way the Kansas Farm Bureau is proposing to rescue farmers and ranchers priced out of the health insurance marketplace set up under the federal Affordable Care Act.

It’s either a bold and daring move. Or, it’s presumptuous, bordering on brazen.

The powerful ag lobbying organization is petitioning lawmakers for what amounts to carte blanche authority to develop and market health coverage free of state and federal oversight.

A quarter of Kansas working-age adults and a third of the state’s children live in households dealing with medical debt.

That’s one of the takeaways from a new report commissioned by five Kansas and Missouri health foundations, believed to be the largest survey to date of health consumers in the two states.

In Kansas, about 2,600 adults and minors were included. The survey answers point to problems with access to dental and mental health care, among other services.

The company that processes applications for Kansas’ privatized KanCare Medicaid program faces potentially steep fines if it doesn’t fix problems, responsible for massive backlogs, by the end of this week.

Maximus, a Maryland-based company that specializes in managing “human service programs” for states and the federal government, has operated the “KanCare Clearinghouse” since 2016.

There have been problems from the start.

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