Barney Mayse is wearing two hats as a member of the Medicaid-reform advisory panel put together by the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback as it moves forward with its KanCare plan.
Mayse, an Overland Park resident, is an advocate for persons with physical disabilities. But, as the only panel member from the Kansas City area, he also is a representative for Kansans in the KC metropolitan area.
“I believe all of the members of the board will be conduits of feedback from the general populace,” Mayse said.
He is one of 20 people appointed by the governor to provide input on the administration’s proposed Medicaid overhaul. The advisory panel held its first bimonthly meeting late last month.
KanCare aims to move virtually all of the state’s 380,000 Medicaid beneficiaries into fixed-cost managed care plans operated by three companies. Administration officials have said they want to select the companies by June so they can forward them on to federal officials for approval.
The Brownback administration estimates KanCare will save state and federal governments $850 million over five years through better coordination of care while improving health outcomes for those on Medicaid.
Mayse has multiple sclerosis. He works as a disability rights advocate for The Whole Person, which helps individuals with physical disabilities lead independent lives. The organization has offices throughout the Kansas City area.
Brownback’s plan has run into opposition, particularly from advocates for persons with developmental disabilities. They have objected to the administration’s plan to include long-term living assistance in KanCare, arguing that managed care is not the best way to provide those services.
But Mayse said he was not on the panel to be a critic. He said he’s convinced the Brownback administration ultimately will implement KanCare as proposed.
The challenge for the advisory council, he said, would be to monitor the progress “and then tweak it as it’s implemented to make sure things don’t go south.”
It’s hard to argue with the administration’s goals of providing better care at a reduced cost, he said.
And though he said he’s still not convinced all the pieces will come together as the administration says they will, Mayse said he was willing to give the plan the benefit of the doubt.
“I have to,” he said. “Other than the fear of change, it becomes difficult to say it’s not going to work because we don’t know it’s not going to work.”
As a representative of the community, Mayse has already heard from the Overland Park-based Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City.
Heather Matty is the resource and advocacy liaison for the organization, and she said she was worried that a system with three separate companies could be confusing and detrimental for persons with brain injuries.
But her larger concern at this point, she said, was addressing the worries among the individuals she serves. She has urged Mayse to impress upon the administration the need for making basic information about KanCare available to the public.
The public discussion so far has “caused a lot of stress and anxiety for people, and fear – it is a big one,” Matty said. “They really don’t know what KanCare means.”
After just one advisory panel meeting, Mayse said it was hard to know the level of impact the group could have on the administration’s plans.
At the initial gathering, he said administration officials asked each member to provide initial suggestions and to describe what a successful program would look like. Mayse brought up the care-related concerns of the brain-injury association and predicted KanCare would be a success, if it delivered on the promises of the administration.
He agreed that effective outreach to all Medicaid recipients would be critical to the success of the program.
Maury Thompson, executive director of Johnson County Developmental Supports, is another local official monitoring the progress of KanCare. As an agency serving individuals with developmental disabilities, it’s part of the coalition pressing for the “carve out” of long-term care from the plan.
Thompson said he hoped that the advisory council would offer a “critical analysis” of KanCare and “continue to scrutinize the effectiveness, efficiency and access to services contained in that managed care approach.”
He said he also hoped that the administration had “appointed this advisory council in good faith, with the intent to charge them with doing as the name implies, and to advise them on how the program should proceed.”