Kansas Medicaid call center staying open
■ An outpouring of physician concern and a renegotiated contract prompted the state to reverse an earlier decision to shut down the assistance center.
Kansas physicians will continue to have access to live assistance with Medicaid billing and payment questions, thanks to a call center contractor's offer to accept pay cuts.
Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson in November ordered the Kansas Health Policy Authority -- which runs the state's Medicaid program -- to find $1.13 million in administrative cuts as part of $260 million in statewide reductions. The KPHA decided to save about $250,000 by eliminating a contract for a call center that handles questions about Medicaid claims and billing, said KPHA spokesman Peter Hancock.
"There was a lot of concern within the provider community about losing that call center. We heard it directly, we heard it indirectly," Hancock said.
HP Enterprise Services, which operates the center, agreed to accept a 10% cut in the monthly fee it receives for each Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program enrollee. The firm also agreed to a 5% cut for each Medicaid and CHIP claim processed.
In exchange for the reductions, the KPHA extended the contract for the center through 2013 and added options for one-year extensions in 2014 and 2015. The center's contract was worth about $34 million in fiscal year 2009, Hancock said.
The billing and claims center receives an average of 250,000 calls per year, according to a KPHA statement. Most of these could be resolved through an automated system, but many calls require someone who can look up account records or interpret regulations.
The Kansas Medical Society said it was pleased that physicians, Medicaid enrollees and others still will be able to access the call center.