Aetna plans to protest Kansas Medicaid decision

Updated: Tuesday, May 28 at 4:50 p.m. ET. 

Aetna Better Health of Kansas will likely submit a protest over the state's recent Medicaid decisions.

Kansas opted for contracts with UnitedHealth and Centene, but chose to reject Aetna's bid in favor of Healthy Blue, a Blue Cross Blue Shield member, the Kansas Reflector first reported. Aetna now says it may decide to protest the decision.

"We're disappointed with the decision given the strength of our proposal and the excellent support we provide to our members in the state," said an Aetna spokesperson in a statement. "We’re currently reviewing our options, and intend to submit a protest."

May 16

Kansas Medicaid selects UnitedHealth, Blue Cross and Centene

Three managed care organizations were recently selected to serve Kansas Medicaid members, the state’s department of health and environment announced.

United Healthcare Community Plan and Centene’s Sunflower Health Plan resigned contracts with the state. Healthy Blue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas’ (BCBSKS') state plan, was the sole newcomer picked.

Seven MCOs had submitted bids beginning in October 2023.

KanCare, which includes Kansas Medicaid and the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, currently serves 458,000 individuals. The contracts will begin Jan. 1, 2025, and conclude at the end of 2027.

"We are honored to continue our more than a decade-long history of serving people who depend on Medicaid in Kansas," said Centene CEO Sarah London in a statement.

Centene's Sunflower Health Plan cares for more than 141,000 members and 7,900 long-term services and supports members, the company says.

Plans also have the option to renew for up to two 12-month extensions.

Notably, CVS’ Aetna Better Health of Kansas was snubbed from this year’s Kansas Medicaid awardees after winning a contract beginning January 2019.

The state’s health department said the new contracts better address prenatal and postpartum care, increase recruitment and retention for providers and expand access in rural areas, according to a news release.

Healthy Blue is the result of a formation between BCBSKS and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. The plans said they joined forces to bid on the 2024 KanCare contract, and their team-up includes Anthem Partnership, a subsidiary of Elevance Health.

“More Kansans choose Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans than any other health insurance provider and we are thrilled to form this alliance in the hopes of offering that same choice to Medicaid-eligible residents,” Matt All, BCBSKS president and CEO, said in a recent news release.