Kansas replaces troubled Medicaid contractor notorious for backlogs, lost documents

After years of complaints about backlogs and mishandled Medicaid applications, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is parting ways with Maximus, the private for-profit company that administered the KanCare clearinghouse.

One of the firms hired by former Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to bring lower costs and private sector efficiency to state government, Maximus instead got poor marks for processing applications and operating KanCare’s customer service call center.

Nursing homes, which rely heavily on Medicaid reimbursements, reported financial struggles as the number of seniors covered by the federal-state health insurance program dropped despite an increasing elderly population. In 2019, Governor Laura Kelly announced plans to hire 300 state workers to take the most complex Medicaid applications away from Maximus.

Instead of bringing the entire Medicaid screening operation back in-house, Kansas has hired another private contractor beginning next year. The New Jersey-based Conduent has had its own troubles. Among them was a lawsuit alleging Medicaid fraud for overbilling dentists in Texas. It was settled last year.

Maximus referred all questions to KDHE.

In a statement to The Star, Conduent touted its experience in other states.

“We bring operational excellence and innovative technology solutions, as well as strong nationwide expertise,” the statement said. “We help our state agency partners adapt to challenges such as policy changes and transitions to new capabilities and solutions, while maintaining high-quality customer service.”

Before Maximus was brought to Kansas, Medicaid applications were handled by state employees. A KDHE spokeswoman said the agency considered discontinuing the outsourcing of Medicaid eligibility, but decided it was not financially feasible.

Lawmakers, attorneys and advocates expressed cautious optimism about the change. Though many predicted continued struggles during a transition and a desire to return to the “good old days” before private business was engaged in the Medicaid application process.


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Mullen Fire expands to 96,757 acres, 29 homes lost | Local News

LARAMIE – The Albany County Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday that 29 homes and 31 other structures or outbuildings have been lost to the Mullen Fire, which has grown to nearly 100,000 acres.

It was first significant damage assessment for structures conducted by firefighting personnel since the blaze erupted Sept. 17 in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest about 40 west of Laramie and just southwest of Centennial.

The sheriff’s office contacted all 38 property owners after the damage assessment was made in lower Keystone, Lake Creek and Foxborough.

“On behalf of everyone working this fire, our thoughts go out to those who lost homes and property,” stated a sheriff’s office press release.

The statement added that if there is further damage to property, additional assessment and notifications will be made. Additionally, the sheriff’s office has received a lot of questions about when owners will be allowed to go see their property.

“Currently, it’s still too dangerous …,” the release stated. “When it’s safe to do so, we will work on setting up a limited re-entry.”

As of the latest update Wednesday morning on the U.S. Forest Service’s Incident Information website, https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7208/, the Mullen Fire had increased to 96,757 total acres and remained at 0% containment.

The total amount of firefighting ground personnel is at 887, directed by a Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Blue Team. The crews are also aided by large fleet of firefighting aircraft. More firefighting personnel and resources continue to arrive after being released from other fires in the western part of the country.

The fire was pushed Wednesday by strong north/northwest winds, increasing overall intensity and most of the new growth to the south and southeast toward the Wyoming-Colorado border, prompting more evacuations and road closures.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation closed Highway 230 from the Colorado

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Santa Cruz County lost almost 1,000 homes to the CZU fires. Its housing crisis is now worse than ever

BOULDER CREEK, Santa Cruz County – At the top of a cul-de-sac lined with burned homes, Antonia Bradford stood before what was once her cathedral-like house, surrounded by singed redwood trees. Little was recognizable in the rubble but a charred car, a chicken coop, a butterfly-shaped chair and a bathtub.

When the CZU Lightning Complex fires ripped through the Santa Cruz Mountains six weeks ago, Bradford, her husband and five children were suddenly homeless — along with thousands of others. Her family stayed in a hotel, then with friends as they scoured for rentals, watching listings disappear and prices rise.

“It’s pretty wild, it’s pretty bad,” Bradford said. “Housing has been a huge issue in Santa Cruz County for quite some time now. Right now it’s a supply-and-demand situation and people raising prices so high it’s pushing people off the mountain.”

When lightning sparked the CZU fires in mid-August, around 60,000 people – 1 in 5 Santa Cruz County residents – evacuated. The blaze destroyed 925 homes and three multifamily residences. The fire affected some of the most affordable housing in the county, adding pressure on an already costly and competitive market amid a statewide housing crisis. With the Glass Fire raging in Wine Country, a similar dynamic might play out in the North Bay, where thousands of homes are threatened.

The sudden need for housing was worsened by the pandemic limiting shelter capacity. Complicating it further was that the county had never dealt with a fire on this scale.

Meanwhile, a government-run program booking evacuees free hotel rooms got off to a bumpy start, officials and residents said. In one case, a couple with health issues slept in a friend’s abandoned trailer before they learned about the program. In another, a nurse only got a room when she no

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28 Homes Lost, 42K Acres Burned

SONOMA COUNTY, CA — The Glass Fire continued to grow overnight in Napa and Sonoma counties, engulfing 42,650 acres by Tuesday morning with zero containment, Cal Fire said in a morning update.

a fire truck is parked on the side of a road: Redwood City firefighters take a break as they mop up hot spots Monday at homes that were destroyed by the Glass Incident Fire in Santa Rosa.

© Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Redwood City firefighters take a break as they mop up hot spots Monday at homes that were destroyed by the Glass Incident Fire in Santa Rosa.

Some 10,712 structures remain threatened by the Glass, Shady and Boysen fires burning in the two North San Francisco Bay Area counties. Cal Fire confirmed at least 28 residences have been destroyed by the blaze in Sonoma County, while at least 52 homes have been lost in Napa County.

“CAL FIRE’S unified team is actively engaged in a coordinated response to take suppressive action on the Glass Fire, which has been split into two zones to effectively provide a response for the communities at risk,” officials with the state agency said.


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“The Red Flag Warning was rescinded last night but above average temperatures will continue this week. Evacuation Orders are still in place for multiple communities within Napa and Sonoma Counties.”

A state of emergency was declared for the two counties Monday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who also requested a presidential major disaster declaration in order to bolster response to the Glass Incident and other destructive wildfires across the state.

The Glass Fire sparked early Sunday in the Deer Park area of Napa County and moved west amid red flag weather conditions, forcing thousands of Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa residents to flee their homes.

Sonoma County officials said 68,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders Monday, with at least six evacuation shelters operating, including at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma and at the Petaluma Veteran’s Building.

table: (Image via Cal Fire)

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Mom Warns Parents After Toddler Nearly Lost Eyesight From Playing With Squirting Bath Toys

PLAINFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A Plainfield mom has an urgent warning for parents after her toddler was not only hospitalized but could also have permanent eye damage from a bath toy you may have in your home.


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Baylor loves cars and playing with his big brother and sister. He also has big blue eyes.

“I just remember praying, ‘Please don’t take his eyes. He has such pretty eyes,” said Baylor’s mom, Eden Strong.

“My 2-year-old son was just having a bath,” she said. “And what looked like a little bit of irritation from getting water in his eye from the tub toys, and then it turned into full blown cellulitis.”

She said over a period of 12 hours his eye went from pink to infected. Pictures from her now-viral facebook post show the fast progression.

“His eye was protruding from his face,” she said. “It was very obscured. He was running a raging fever.”

The toddler was given IV antibiotics and then a CAT scan.

“They explained that if it moved to his retina it could permanently cause blindness or if it moved to his brain it could be a lot worse,” Strong said.

The culprit was a squirting bath toy.

“I came to find out later that because the water is never fully expelled from those types of toys that they can just grow bacteria that you can’t stop,” she said.

Strong said she hopes manufacturers take a closer look at the toys they are producing.

“I’ve been shocked,” she said. “I have a completely full inbox with parents sending me pictures of their children who have gone through the same thing. It really does seem to be a design issue across all manufacturers and not just one specific one, so I really hope even those people

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