Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:23PM - 333 Views
Amelia Holliday
Staff Reporter

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On one of the last days of the 2013 General Assembly session, lawmakers in Kentucky voted to pass a bill meant to be the first big step forward on the road to fixing the Medicaid crisis in the state, though Governor Beshear has yet to sign it into law.

House Bill 5, which passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was sent to the governor on Monday, would require the Kentucky Department of Insurance to enforce the state’s prompt payment laws for Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs).

Michael Rust, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, said his organization applauds the legislature’s action in approving the bill.

“House Bill 5 gives more than 500,000 citizens under Medicaid managed care the same prompt pay protections afforded Kentuckians with private health insurance. This change is critical to the financial health of Kentucky hospitals and their 79,000 employees,” Rust said.

The Medicaid MCOs have always been subject to the prompt payment laws of the state, Rust said. According to the Kentucky Department of Insurance (DOI), insurers have 30 days to pay for their coverage or deny the coverage, a deadline the MCOs have rarely, if ever, met.

“When these MCOs were established, they were put under the department of Medicaid, and what we’re asking with HB 5 is that they be placed under the department of insurance,” Rust said.

Rust explained that by putting Medicaid under the DOI’s authority, it would be more likely that the organizations would be better managed and payment would be more forthcoming for providers.

“Hopefully … the DOI will enforce the prompt payment guidelines that are in place right now for all commercial insurers for the three MCOs right now that are here in the state,” he said. “This is just one step in the process, and we think it’s a good first step, and we’re very hopeful that the governor will sign the bill.”

Rust said the KHA has always supported the Medicaid program and hopes things will soon be straightened out because the real issue is making sure Kentuckians have quality health care.

“The whole goal of this is to improve the health of the Medicaid beneficiary in the state, I mean that’s our goal, and I think that’s what the goal of the administration and the cabinet and the other folks involved, to improve the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth. We’ve got to work together to make this, to accomplish that goal,” he said.

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