- Associated Press - Monday, November 3, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Enrollment in Medicaid grew at an extremely low rate in Kansas last year and health officials say the reasons aren’t clear.

The Kansas Health Institute reports Medicaid enrollment in Kansas grew by 0.1 percent from 2012 to 2013. The normal yearly growth rate is about 3 percent, which reflects population growth and normal turnover of families becoming eligible or dropping out of Medicaid, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1zoITv6 ).

Last year, Medicaid changed to a program called KanCare that is managed by three private companies. However, that transition did not appear to effect enrollment because it didn’t change eligibility requirements, said Scott Brunner, senior analyst for the KHI.

About 61,286 children were enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program in Kansas in 2013, and 225,116 children and families were enrolled in Medicaid. Another 103,364 people were enrolled in Medicaid programs for the disabled and low-income senior citizens, the KHI said.

The number of Kansans covered by Medicaid grew by about 8 percent in 2010, close to 21 percent in 2011 and about 6 percent in 2012. The report attributed the high increase in 2011 to different enrollment procedures and clearing a backlog of applications.

Laura Hopkins, the president of Amerigroup Kansas, one of the three private companies managing KanCare, said in a statement it was too early to conclude why the enrollment was down.

“Changes in membership are often cyclical, and with only 18 months of completed data, it may be too early to determine what the long-term enrollment will be,” she said. “Anecdotally, we receive very favorable feedback from our members and believe that has a positive effect on our retention rates.”

The improving economy might a factor in the lower enrollment numbers, Brunner said.

“It’s probably a mixed bag” of causes, he said. “We do believe economic conditions made a difference to some degree.”

This could be simply an unusual year and this year’s numbers will help determine if lower enrollments will become a trend and if so, may shed light on the reasons, Bruner said.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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