TOPEKA – An error by a contractor working for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment dramatically underrepresented – by 12,000 people – the scope of Kansas’ backlog of applications for Medicaid eligibility, officials said Friday.
Susan Mosier, secretary of KDHE and the state’s Medicaid director, sent a letter to federal officials in early June disclosing a contractor, Accenture, relied upon a flawed method of reporting the Medicaid processing. The correction pushed the waiting list from 3,500 people on May 8 to 15,400 on May 22.
“The change in the application backlog number we are reporting is due to an error in the method the contractor used to create earlier reports,” Mosier said in the letter to federal officials.
Processing problems emerged in 2015 when the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback introduced a new computer system for determining Medicaid eligibility. The Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, or KEES, was to have been made operational by Accenture long ago, but the firm ran into a series of delays.
Shifting of processing oversight from the Kansas Department for Children and Families to KDHE in January escalated the bottleneck for people seeking to enroll in KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program.
In February, more than 18,200 applications for Medicaid were awaiting action by the state. Of that total, 7,750 applications had been sitting in the queue for more than the federal limit of 45 days.
Documents submitted by KDHE to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which required updates on progress addressing the backlog, indicated the state narrowed the application blockade to 15,800 in March and 7,700 in April. The number exceeding the 45-day limit also appeared to have been reduced to 2,000 on May 8.
However, the corrected report showed that on May 22 the number of stalled applications jumped to 15,400 and the portion on hand more than 45 days amounted to 10,900.
“It’s a pretty epic screw up,” said Sean Gatewood, representing KanCare Advocates Network. “How do you lose 12,000 people?”
Mosier informed federal officials that temporary workers hired by the state to delve into the processing backlog would be kept after they were scheduled to be released at the end of June.