By Associated Press - Friday, August 23, 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Insurance company Aetna is bringing in new leaders to run its Medicaid operations in Kansas after complaints from hospitals and others put it at risk of losing its state contract.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Friday that Keith Wisdom is no longer the CEO of Aetna Better Health of Kansas.

KCUR-FM reports that the company declined to answer questions about whether it had replaced Wisdom but said in an emailed statement that it is “bringing in additional leaders with extensive experience in Medicaid” to help “effectively support the needs of this population.” The company would not identify the new hires.

Aetna provides Medicaid health coverage to about 100,000 Kansas residents under a state contract worth about $1 billion a year. The program serves mostly low-income children but also parents, pregnant women, people with disabilities and seniors in long-term care.

The state turned the day-to-day operations of its Medicaid program over to private health insurance companies in 2013, during Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration. One of the three original companies, Amerigroup, lost its contract last year to Aetna in a bidding process, before Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly took office in January.

Kelly’s administration put Aetna on notice last month that it was failing to comply with the terms of its contract. Aetna submitted a plan earlier this month to come into compliance, but health department officials have said the plan failed to address their concerns.

Complaints have included a lack of transparency about which health providers Aetna covers and delays and mistakes in payments to doctors and hospitals. The original three companies faced complaints similar to those that Aetna now faces.

A legislative oversight committee is scheduled to convene a two-day meeting starting Monday, with testimony both days from state officials and the companies managing the Medicaid program.

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