Four companies will oversee Medicaid coverage in 16-county Louisville region that includes 175,000 Kentuckians

Beginning Jan. 1, four companies will share management of the health care of roughly 175,000 Medicaid patients in the Jefferson County region. This reflects a major, federally mandated change that some say raises concerns about disrupting care. The nonprofit Passport Health Plan has served all Medicaid recipients in the 16-county region for 15 years. On Thursday, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services said it had signed 18-month contracts with Passport and three other companies — Humana, Wellcare of Kentucky and Coventry Cares — to manage Medicaid recipients’ care starting next year.

Other details of the contracts were not released.

The federal government has made it clear that the state it could no longer operate with a single managed-care company in the region and that it must give patients a choice among several providers.

In addition to Jefferson, the region’s other counties are Breckinridge, Bullitt, Carroll, Grayson, Hardin, Henry, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, Trimble and Washington.

According to The Courier-Journal‘s Tom Loftus, “Passport had hoped that, if the state went with multiple companies, it initially would assign all recipients to it and then give them an option of moving to another company. Instead, the cabinet initially will assign recipients to one of the four companies.

The cabinet said the state will use ‘a high-tech matching system’ that assigns a person based on ‘available provider networks and any special health care needs.’ (Read more)

Andrea Bennett, deputy director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said the new system raises concerns for child advocates. “While we still have threads of hope, we cannot ignore the ongoing Medicaid managed care issues that have occurred throughout the rest of the state over the past year.  . . . We’ve heard providers threaten to give up on Medicaid altogether because they are frustrated and still not receiving proper payment. We’ve seen lawsuits and fights between the state, the managed care companies, and the providers. And we still haven’t seen hard data showing how managed care is improving quality and access to care for children in the Commonwealth.”

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