KanCare prompt-pay bill advances; fluoride measure squelched
By JIM McLEAN and MIKE SHIELDS
KHI News Service
TOPEKA — A bill aimed at speeding payments from the state’s KanCare contractors to Medicaid service providers was endorsed today by the House Health and Human Services Committee.
House Bill 2552, a so-called “prompt pay” bill, had the backing of most of the state’s Medicaid provider groups and faced no opposition.
The measure essentially would write into law some of the payment requirements already included in the state’s contracts with the three insurance companies that have run day-to-day operations of the Kansas Medicaid program since Jan. 1, 2013, when the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback moved virtually all the state’s Medicaid enrollees into health plans run by three managed care companies.
The bill also would let doctors, hospitals and other Medicaid service providers collect 12 percent interest on late payments from the KanCare companies. The three current contractors are Amerigroup, UnitedHealthcare and Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene.
A similar measure, Senate Bill 317, was introduced in the Senate and heard last week by the chamber’s Public Health and Welfare Committee. But no action has yet been taken on it.
The state’s contracts with the insurance companies include provisions that require they make timely payment for so-called “clean claims” submitted by Medicaid providers. The insurance companies have reported to state officials that they are meeting the contract standards well enough to qualify for the contract dollars the state has held back as an incentive for prompt payments.
A clean claim is one deemed by the managed care company to have been properly submitted in accordance with its billing procedures.
Providers have complained that the state’s contractual requirements for prompt payment have failed to account for the time it can take for a claim to be deemed “clean.”
Interhab, the group that represents most of the state’s Community Developmental Disability Organizations, pushed to have the 12 percent interest penalty in the bill raised to 18 percent. An amendment that would have done that was offered by Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat. But his amendment failed on a voice vote.
Working to beat looming procedural deadlines, the committee also voted on several other proposed bills but tabled a controversial measure that would have required municipal water utilities to issue warnings about the reputed hazards of fluoridation.
Public health officials argued the warnings are baseless and that fluoridated water helps prevent cavities, especially in children.
By voting to table HB 2372, the committee probably killed it for this session. The vote was 10-2. The two committee members who voted against tabling the bill were Reps. Patricia Sloop, a Wichita Democrat, and Kevin Jones, a Wellsville Republican.
The bill would have required municipalities to warn their water customers that the “latest science confirms that ingested fluoride lowers the IQ in children.”
The bill was pushed by an anti-fluoride group that in 2012 helped orchestrate the defeat of a fluoride ballot initiative in Wichita, one of the largest cities in the nation that doesn’t add fluoride to its drinking water.
Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Republican and physician, voted to table the proposal. She said the vast majority of studies have shown that fluoridation is safe and effective.
“The studies that I have read are not consistent with the information that they (the bill’s supporters) brought forward,” Bollier said.
The committee endorsed HB 2611. Supporters, including the Kansas Dental Association, said the bill would lift current restrictions that effectively limit dentists from having more than three practice locations and could improve access to oral health care in underserved parts of the state.
Approved HB 2673, which would update state law dealing with the regulation and supervision of physician assistants.
Recommended passage of HB 2701, which would add drugs containing lorcaserin to the state’s list of controlled substances. Lorcaserin is most commonly prescribed for weight loss. It already is listed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule IV drug.
The committee also voted to approve House Resolution 6049, urging creation of a state plan for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.