Politics & Government

Beshear administration delays release of details on Medicaid contracts

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear's administration will announce next week details about managed-care contracts for Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, aged and disabled.

The administration previously said that it expected the managed care contracts to be signed by Friday, the beginning of the 2012 fiscal year.

But the Beshear administration said Friday that details of those contracts would not be released until next week.

"The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is in the final stages of evaluations with potential managed-care organizations, and we expect to make an announcement on our efforts to balance the Medicaid budget next week," Beshear said Friday.

How soon those contracts are signed and for what amount is key to balancing the 2012 fiscal year's budget. The legislature passed a budget this year predicated on more than $166 million in savings in the $6 billion Medicaid program. Beshear had pledged that he would generate savings in the program through managed care and other cost-saving measures as a way to plug a hole in the budget.

But Senate Republicans, including Beshear's Republican opponent in this fall's gubernatorial election — Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville — questioned whether moving the state to managed care would generate savings that Beshear promised. Williams and others were concerned that the administration would not be able to have the managed-care contracts in place by July 1 to generate the savings Beshear said are possible.

Williams, in a written statement Friday, said that the administration's reluctance to release details about the managed-care contracts shows that it is not ready to oversee such an overhaul.

"The inability of this administration to have contracts in place by the promised July 1 deadline speaks for itself," Williams said.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Finance and Administration Cabinet is overseeing the bidding of the managed care contracts. The request for proposals released in the spring allowed companies to bid to provide Medicaid managed care for either the entire state or for a particular region.

Currently, the state pays doctors and other health care providers a set fee for a service. The cabinet could move to a capitated system, which pays a provider a set amount per patient, regardless of how many times a patient visits a doctor or how many medical procedures a patient has.

The state typically pays 30 percent of the costs and the federal government pays the rest.

More than 820,000 people in Kentucky are on Medicaid.

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