Medicaid Proves to be a Winning Topic in this Year’s Pulitzer Prize Contest

ries about Medicaid earned top honors in this year’s Pulitzer Prize contest: editorial writer Andie Dominick from the Des Moines Register earned a top prize for her columns on the consequences of Iowa’s transition to Medicaid managed care, and health journalist Andy Marso won a finalist mention for his coverage of the lack of transparency in KanCare’s Medicaid disability program, as part of the Kansas City Star’s series on secrecy in Kansas state government. The Star team was a Pulitzer finalist in public service journalism.

In both cases, the reporting focused on the lack of transparency for patients and providers interacting with Medicaid managed care plans. In Kansas, caregivers for disabled adults and children enrolled in Medicaid were asked to sign blank care plans that they later learned would cut home health care for their family members.

From Marso:

“The Star found other caregivers who were asked to sign off on plans of care without knowing if they included cuts — one of several concerns about transparency that have arisen since the state became the first in the country to privatize its entire Medicaid program by establishing KanCare in 2013…

Bea Judah, a Gardner resident whose 14-year-old daughter receives KanCare services because of severe autism, said an Amerigroup employee asked her to sign a blank iPad screen this year at the end of her daughter’s annual assessment.

Laura Singer, a case manager Judah had hired from Funkhouser’s company, stepped in.

“Laura stopped him and said, ‘Well, how do we know you’re going to comply?’ ” Judah said. “ ‘This isn’t written up in any document, you’re just asking her to sign something.’ ”

Judah said that based on Singer’s advice, she didn’t sign the plan until she got paper copies in the mail that showed how many hours her daughter would receive. But Judah said if Singer hadn’t been there, she probably would have signed the blank screen.”

In Iowa, Dominick’s columns put a spotlight on the quick shift of hundreds of thousands of people from state-run to privately-run Medicaid coverage, with little time to prepare. In one Dominick’s columns, she and the paper’s editorial board expressed outrage after one of the three managed care companies contracted for Iowa’s Medicaid program dropped out, and another froze enrollment.

– Center for Children and Families

Read the full article here.