Medicaid Commissioner under budget and under fire when it comes to managed care

12/11/2012 05:11 PM

The shift to managed care has helped Kentucky on the financial side, but state Medicaid officials remain on the hot-seat as Kentucky hospital administrators and doctors continue complaining of slow payments and cumbersome procedures.

First the good news. State Medicaid Commissioner Lawrence Kissner told lawmakers on the Interim Health and Welfare Committee the department is $40 million under budget through October.

But overall, it was an uncomfortable meeting for Kissner, who has been commissioner since July 1. Lawmakers grilled him over the cabinet’s oversight of the managed care companies.

Doctors, hospitals, health departments and dentists have complained throughotu the year about cumbersome procedures and delayed payments from the managed care companies.

Co-Chair of the Health and Welfare Committee Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, quizzed Kissner on why his department has seemed slow to iron out the wrinkles in the system that have had hospital administrators and doctors wringing their hands.

Their exchange is below:

The cost of Medicaid in Kentucky, which covers health care to the poor and disabled, has ballooned to well over the $6 billion dollar mark when you count federal dollars.

The goal of managed care was to hire private companies to handle the billing and approval process for medical procedures and prescriptions. The state signed contracts with three out-of-state companies in November 2011. Those private companies have an incentive to keep the costs down.

Then this fall, Kentucky Spirit announced it was breaking its contract with the state a year before it expires because it was losing money on the deal.

Kissner was asked by Rep. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, what the impact would be of their decision to leave, but Kissner refused to answer because of ongoing legal proceedings with the company.

“I think it’s going to become a significant legal issue, so ramifications of that I don’t want to go into at this time,” Kissner said.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or


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