KanCare causing headaches for nursing homes

Staff writer

Nursing home administrators are frustrated over the state’s new KanCare Medicaid system, which went into effect Jan. 1.

“We haven’t seen anything but delays in services,” said Melissa Parmley, administrator at Peabody Care Center. “It’s been a giant headache.”

She said payments have been delayed by more than 90 days. However, delay in payments does not mean delay in services for patients.

“Patients still get the same care they usually do, but we pick up their cost until their payment comes through,” she said.

The program was designed to streamline Medicaid by assigning each beneficiary to one of three companies — Amerigroup, Sunflower State Health Plan, and UnitedHealthcare. KanCare oversees financial management of all three.

According to KanCare policy, anyone who received Medicaid before Jan. 1 will receive the same benefits through KanCare, but KanCare must clear any additional benefits.

Kris Erickson, CEO of Salem Home in Hillsboro, said 50 percent of his customers had been receiving Medicaid before KanCare. His facility has seen payment delays of 30 to 60 days.

“It seems like the delays are random,” he said. “For some reason they get flagged and it’s a whole process to get them reapproved. They eventually get approved, but in the meantime they can’t pay for their care. We have to foot the bill until the payment comes through.”

While Parmley said costs have not increased because of KanCare, Erickson said he has had to hire staff.

“It’s a lot of paperwork, but mostly it’s a lot of waiting,” he said.

Joe Ewert of the Kansas Department of Aging thinks the problem is purely in bookkeeping.

“It’s mostly in payment adjustment that there has been delays,” he said. “These delays have not directly impacted patient services. We encourage homes to contact us anytime a problem arises.”

Caseworkers assigned by KanCare to assist residents or facilities work hard to get their residents the services they require both nursing homes said.

“Their poor workers are fighting an uphill battle,” Parmley said. Erickson and Parmley are hopeful their complaints and those of other facilities across the state will open lawmakers’ eyes.

“The approval process is not saving money; I don’t see how it could,” Parmley said. “The delays are just too long, and promises are not getting fulfilled.”

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