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Kansas Medicaid reform plan wins points with state's medical society

The Kansas Medical Society announced in mid-January that it supports many provisions of KanCare, a proposal by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's administration to provide Medicaid enrollees more integrated, higher-quality care and limit Medicaid spending growth. KanCare is both a consolidation of existing state agencies serving the state's 378,000 Medicaid enrollees and an attempt to incentivize managed care organizations to provide comprehensive, coordinated, quality care. It includes a medical home program for Medicaid enrollees who require more complex care. It also would create health savings accounts for enrollees in an attempt to give them a better understanding of and more control over the cost of their care. The state plans to launch KanCare in January 2013. Kansas Medical Society Executive Director Jerry Slaughter said his organization supports the physician-related parts of KanCare and remains neutral on its other provisions. KanCare would not reduce physician Medicaid fees o ...

CDC deflates public health threat of mysterious skin condition

Patients with the unexplained skin condition commonly referred to as Morgellons experience real symptoms that often lead to a diminished quality of life, say the authors of a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. The condition is characterized by unexplained lesions that contain fibers, threads or other foreign materials accompanied by sensations of crawling, biting and stinging, the CDC says. Although the health problem is not recognized as a distinct clinical disorder with diagnostic criteria, the study authors recommend that physicians keep an open mind when they see such patients and not dismiss the individual's medical concerns as untrue. The study encourages physicians to fully examine these patients and create a treatment plan that addresses co-existing medical conditions. "It is unfair to dismiss [these patients'] complaints as invalid, and that has happened," said Daniel Rutz, MPH, a CDC public health communications specialist who worked on the s ...

Pharmacists say marketing of Medicare drug plans is misleading

Pharmacists have called on the agency overseeing the Medicare program to allow patients to switch their prescription drug plans outside of the normal open enrollment season after beneficiaries say they were misled by insurers. Beneficiaries report that they were promised zero co-pays upon enrolling in Part D drug plans online or using Medicare Plan Finder on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website. However, some of those patients found out only after enrollment had closed that the discounted rates apply only at pharmacies in certain box stores. "Now seniors are going to the community pharmacy that they have relied on for years, sometimes decades, only to be told that they must travel 20 miles or more to obtain the lowest-advertised co-payments for their medication," said B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Assn. in Alexandria, Va. The association has asked CMS to create a special enrollment period that allows for patients who are dissatisfie ...