Earlier this year at a legislative committee meeting, a provider from Eastern Kentucky said, "Poor people don't deserve poor care."
At Coventry Health Care, we couldn't agree more.
It's why Coventry has operated Medicaid managed care plans for more than two decades based on one core principle: provide access to high-quality, affordable care. And, in July 2011, we brought that commitment to Kentucky when Coventry was selected as one of three new managed care organizations, or MCOs, to serve the commonwealth's Medicaid members.
For almost a year now, we have worked with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create a health plan that turns our principle into reality. New programs that did not exist in the old "fee-for-service" system have improved the lives of thousands of our members.
We are helping our neighbors better control their diabetes; teaching expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies how to create a better, healthier future for their unborn babies; even helping one member find a dialysis provider just minutes from home when he used to endure an hour-long ambulance ride to a hospital three times each week.
There is no question that we, like other MCOs, have faced our share of challenges early on. We received complaints that doctors, hospitals, and other medical care providers were not being paid in a timely manner and that preauthorizations for care were not being handled quickly.
Coventry's entire organization, here in Kentucky and nationally, felt the disappointment and immediately mobilized the full resources of our entire company to get to the root of the problems. We put better systems and solutions into place to fix the problems and ensure that they would not happen in the future.
While it might not be apparent from the stories that you've seen or heard, we have seen real improvements. Providers are being paid faster.
During this past month, more than 93 percent of provider claims were paid in less than 15 days of submitting a claim, and more than 99 percent in under 30 days.
Preauthorization turnaround times have been reduced to normal levels.Discharge planning for mental health has improved. Our teams are finding new ways to help members better manage their health.
At every step, we have worked transparently and collaboratively with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to make things right.
As a Medicaid managed care provider in nine other states, we know that excellent care requires a strong commitment to partnership. We know that barriers to delivering care must be removed as everyone works together to improve outcomes for patients, and maximize the return for every health care dollar.
For the good of our members, all players must be on the same team, including MCOs, health care providers, regulators and case managers.
We applaud the recent appointment of Audrey Tayse Haynes as secretary of health and family services and appreciate her spirit of partnership.
In recent meetings with the secretary, we emphasized that we are ready to roll up our sleeves, work together on "to-do" lists and alongside her to accomplish her top priorities.
These include making sure that Kentucky's children get vaccinated to ensure a healthy start, continuity of care is provided to youngsters in less stable home environments, medicines are appropriately prescribed, patients with diabetes are compliant with their medication regimens, and better solutions are found to care for mental and behavioral health.
Gov. Steve Beshear had an ambitious vision when he moved to a managed care system to improve the health of the commonwealth's most vulnerable citizens and save taxpayers over $1 billion. We believed it was the right vision for Kentucky then, and we still believe it is today.
At the same time, introducing such dramatic change in such a short time was bound to have challenges. We have overcome many hurdles. We have laid important groundwork to realize the promise of managed care. But much work still lies ahead.
Coventry's experience in other states has proven that managed care works. We are confident that with the collaboration and support of the cabinet, providers, case workers and others who provide health care to Medicaid members, we will improve the health and the lives of the citizens here in Kentucky.