Medicaid director leaving as Kansas prepares extension bid
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas official overseeing the state’s privatized Medicaid program is departing as the state prepares to ask the federal government to extend the program past 2018.
The state Department of Health and Environment announced Friday that Mike Randol would step down as Medicaid director. Spokeswoman Angela de Rocha could not say exactly when Randol would leave and declined to discuss the reasons, calling it a personnel matter.
But she and department Secretary Susan Mosier praised Randol’s service to the Medicaid program. He has been the program’s director since 2012 and legislators and advocacy groups have relied upon him most frequently in wrestling with Medicaid issues, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported .
“We appreciate his service to the state of Kansas and wish him well,” Mosier said.
The announcement of Randol’s departure came the same day the department announced that it would wait until next the week to release its plan for the privatized Medicaid program going forward. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s office had said the plan would be released Friday.
But de Rocha said the delay was tied to legal issues, not Randol’s departure, and that the timing of the two is “pure coincidence.”
Kansas provides coverage to about 378,000 poor, disabled and elderly residents, including poor children, under its Medicaid program. The federal government oversees states’ programs because it and the states fund them jointly.
Kansas turned over its program’s day-to-day operations to the three private health insurers in 2013, and Brownback’s administration has touted the renamed program, “KanCare,” as a big success that’s controlled costs while providing better care.
But legislators also have heard continual complaints from parents, advocates and health care providers that claims are too readily denied and services curtailed by the private contractors.
Brownback’s administration initially planned to have new KanCare contracts in place with private companies for next year but then sought a year’s extension of the current program from the federal government.
In January, outgoing President Barack Obama’s administration denied the extension and threatened financial sanctions, arguing that the Kansas program was “substantially out of compliance” with federal rules and was not overseeing the private contractors adequately.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer called it “an ugly parting” shot at the governor by the departing Democratic president. The year’s extension was granted last week by the administration of President Donald Trump, a Republican.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com