Medicaid

Though its Medicaid contract is still at stake, Aetna Better Health is making progress, Kansas lawmakers and state regulators said this week. 

“There has been a good response from them,” Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment Lee Norman told a panel of lawmakers Tuesday.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — In 2017, an estimated 38,000 kids in Kansas didn’t have health insurance. That’s according to data recently released by the Kansas Health Institute.

The highest rates of uninsured kids live in the western and southwestern quadrants of the state, but large numbers of uninsured children also reside in the state’s more populous counties. The lack of Medicaid expansion could be contributing to the issue, but experts say it’s likely not the only reason.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Dozens of primarily elderly or disabled Kansans lost their Medicaid coverage because of errors made by Aetna. Staff at the state health department discovered the problem, restored their insurance and stopped further cancellations.

Months later, state workers are still double-checking the work of Aetna Better Health — one of the three companies that helps run the state’s privatized Medicaid system — while Aetna puts together a permanent fix.

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.”

Laura Robeson quit her job as a fourth-grade teacher to care for her son, who has cerebral palsy and other health problems. But as politicians considered cuts to various health care programs, she felt compelled to become an activist, working with others to speak out for families like hers.

That culminated at the State of the Union Address in February. Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids chose Robeson to attend as her guest, providing a real-world example of the role federal healthcare policies play in a citizen's life.

A day after Kansas notified Planned Parenthood in May 2016 that it would cut off its participation in Medicaid, the nonprofit group sued to block the move.

So Kansas hired three high-powered East Coast law firms to defend it in a case that would slog on for nearly three years before Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration agreed to drop the termination effort in April.

Kansas has dropped its effort to terminate Planned Parenthood’s participation in Medicaid, ending a three-year-long court battle that the state lost at every turn.

The change in policy wasn’t announced publicly but rather came in the form of a joint stipulation to dismiss Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging the state’s move.

Pages