KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Kansas Medicaid Eligibility System Leads To Long Waits For Determination

News outlets also report on Iowa Medicaid developments such as competition among participating health care companies and more issues with the governor's privatization plan.

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Problems With Medicaid Eligibility System Leave Kansans Without Care
Thousands of Kansans seeking Medicaid benefits are being forced to wait months because of continuing problems with a new computer system and a change in the state agency responsible for handling some eligibility determinations. The application backlog began to form in July when state officials moved Medicaid eligibility processing to the long-delayed Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, or KEES. The software switch forced employees to use dozens of time-consuming workarounds to make the system function. (Marso, 2/1)

Iowa Public Radio: Meridian And WellCare Continue Fighting For A Piece Of Medicaid
Healthcare companies WellCare and Meridian are continuing their fights to manage a piece of Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid system. WellCare was one of four companies selected to privatize Medicaid. But its contract was terminated after Administrative Law Judge Christie Scase determined it had violated rules of the bid process. (Boden, 2/1)

Des Moines Register: Are Medicaid Communications Constitutionally Protected?
A company stripped of its role in managing Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid for improper communications with Gov. Terry Branstad’s staff argued Monday that those talks are constitutionally protected. Iowa in December terminated WellCare's lucrative contract to work as one of the companies behind a controversial plan to privatize Iowa’s Medicaid management. “We’re not just throwing up a constitutional argument to see if it will get us more attention,” WellCare attorney Robert Highsmith Jr. said during a court hearing Monday. "These are fundamental foundational principles of First Amendment law.” (Clayworth, 2/1)

And in New Mexico -

The Associated Press: Medicaid Edges Out Political Agendas In New Mexico
Rising health care costs linked to the expansion of Medicaid in New Mexico combined with faltering state revenues are crowding out initiatives sought by Gov. Susana Martinez. In January 2013, Martinez became only the second Republican governor to break ranks with GOP allies and expand Medicaid. Three years later — well into her second term — Medicaid looms over nearly every spending decision. ... New Mexico’s budget crunch is linked to a downturn in energy markets. It highlights the effects of Medicaid expansion as states start having to pay a portion of the costs for the newly insured, starting with 5 percent next year and increasing to 10 percent by 2020. More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid have seen enrollments surge beyond projections, straining their budgets. Few states have as much of a challenge in meeting new spending obligations as New Mexico. (Lee, 2/1)

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