State Sen. Givens says Beshear implementing managed care programs too quickly

06/30/2011 12:49 PM

While maintaining his advocacy of managed care, Republican state Sen. David Givens said Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is moving too fast into managed care for Medicaid for it to be fully effective.

Givens, R-Greensburg, said he thinks Medicaid managed care could help the state save money, but implementing it should take time.

“Initially I think it can (save money), but the concern I have is the can part,” Givens said. “As this administration negotiates these contracts, it’s going to be a lengthy, lengthy negotiation if it’s done correctly. It’s going to take a substantial period of time and some very skilled negotiators. And in the end I hope it’s not going to have a short term financial benefit that ends up imposing on us a long-term financial burden.

“Short term financial gain for long-term loss, I don’t like that.”

Managed care allows hospitals, doctor groups and businesses to form networks or team up to provide care covered by Medicaid, usually at a lower cost.

Kentucky has one managed care system, called Passport, which covers Louisville and 14 surrounding counties. Passport has come under fire for illegally spending money, but has created operating surpluses every year it has operated.

Whether Passport has saved the Commonwealth any money hasn’t been determined yet.

As part of his plan to balance the Medicaid budget for the last bit of this fiscal year (ends today) and the next fiscal year, Beshear proposed implementing more managed care programs. His administration said managed care for dental work, x-rays and other medical needs would be some of the programs he would look to contract for.

Beshear would also request proposals for statewide managed care programs, in addition to smaller networks like Passport.

Givens, who is part of the Republican Senate majority, said Beshear’s re-election bid was the only reason he made expanded managed care part of his plan to balance the current Medicaid budget.

“That concerned with this being a gubernatorial election,” Givens said. “I fear he feels compelled to do it in a way that may not be the most beneficial for the sake of in the short term, getting it checked off the list.”

Beshear will be facing off against Republican Senate President David Williams and Independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith this fall.

Williams, Givens and the rest of the Senate Republicans balked at Beshear’s plan in a special session earlier this year, saying the governor couldn’t get the managed care savings he promised in time.

Instead of banking on those proposed savings, they wanted across the board cuts in spending.

Givens told Pure Politics that despite advances in legislative independence, the governor still has a lot of power when it comes to implementing managed care, including at which pace the programs are implemented.

But the legislature can check that power by asking oversight questions and reviewing contracts, Givens said.

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