TOPEKA — Jim Barnett on Tuesday urged Gov. Jeff Colyer as a fellow physician to sever ties between the state and the private contractor tasked with clearing applications through the state’s Medicaid system.

Barnett, a former legislator and a Republican rival to Colyer in this year’s gubernatorial race, also called for the state to issue maximum fines against the company and release the results of an audit.

“This should happen immediately,” Barnett said. “Kansans have waited long enough.”

Colyer’s administration already has vowed to impose a heavy fine on Maximus for its delays in handling applications and poor accuracy in making financial payments. The company has contracted with the state since 2015.

Colyer is considered the architect of KanCare, which provides health insurance for more than 420,000 disabled, low-income and elderly Kansans.

Kendall Marr, a spokesman for Colyer, said KanCare has saved taxpayers more than $2 billion while improving health outcomes and providing additional services.

“Since he became governor less than five months ago, Gov. Colyer and his new leadership team have been working hard to hold Maximus accountable and improve the eligibility processing system,” Marr said. “He will continue to do so until the problem is solved.”

Barnett said the KanCare program has been broken from the start.

As doctors, Barnett said, he and Colyer are bound by their oath to do no harm. He said he recently saw a patient who waited more than a year to receive treatment. He wondered how many are waiting and for how long.

“That’s why I find this so disturbing,” Barnett said.

If governor, Barnett said, he would fire Maximus, which “has given us minimus results.”