Advocates for the Disabled in Kansas Show Mixed Feelings towards Governor’s Initiatives
May 17, 2013 03:42 PM
Last week, advocates for the disabled - including the Kansas Developmental Disabilities Policy Group - expressed support for Governor Sam Brownback’s proposal to pay for in-home services with planned Medicaid savings. Advocates also praised the Governor’s plan to reduce the number of people on waiting lists for Medicaid home and community based services by 600. That said, advocates continue to protest the Governor’s plans to eventually include long-term supports for the developmentally disabled in KanCare. A rally on May 10 brought 1,100 people to the statehouse.
Governor Brownback has called for taking $8 million from the “KanCare dividend,” or money saved from transferring beneficiaries from Medicaid to managed care, and $10.5 million in federal funds, to move 600 people off the waiting lists by the end of the next fiscal year. In Kansas, a disabled child can wait years to receive in-home services.
Advocates recognize that the Governor’s proposal, if enacted, would pose the greatest reform to the waiting list in years. Some, however, aspire to see further-reaching reforms to the waiting lists, which currently include approximately 5,400 people. Tim Wood, the campaign manager for End the Wait, a campaign of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, is pushing for the complete elimination of the waiting lists. Wood wants an equal number of the 600 people coming off the waiting lists come from the physically disabled and developmentally disabled groups. Currently, Kansas has two waiting lists, one for each group.
While advocates have been successful in receiving a year-long period where in-home services would not be administered by KanCare, the administration does not support a permanent “carve-out.” Angela de Rocha, the spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, stated that a carve-out would cost the state $9 million in the next fiscal year, and “jeopardizes the state’s ability to address the waiting lists.” Sherriene Jones Sontag, chief spokesperson for Governor Brownback, remarked that the Governor is “fully committed to including DD long-term supports in KanCare effective January 1, 2014.” Ms. Sontag also stated that the governor believes that including these services in KanCare would help reduce the waiting lists.
The battle in the Kansas legislature intensified last week when Representative David Crum (R) amended a House budget bill that would block the governor’s spending proposal to reduce the waiting lists if advocates succeed in achieving a permanent carve-out.
While Representative Crum knows that his position is politically unpopular, he believes that full integration into KanCare will result in decreased costs to taxpayers, as well as improved health outcomes. Tom Laing, the executive director in Interhab, which represents the majority of Kansas’ Community Developmental Disability Organizations, argued instead that past experience with insurance companies have not proven to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
To see a previous Medicaid Council Report article on the advocates for the disabled in Kansas, clickhere.
To see the full story on recent developments in Kansas, click here, here, here, and here.
Home health providers should be aware that the move to managed care in Medicaid faces opposition from beneficiaries and interest groups alike – and that providers are also not powerless or voiceless in the matter.
Stakeholders can be very useful in improving a state’s transition to managed care in Medicaid. Likewise, if these stakeholders have outright opposition to using managed care in Medicaid, the forums are there to voice those opinions. The main point is that the nature and scope of any state’s consideration or movement to Medicaid managed care is neither automatic nor a decision made in a vacuum.
Home health providers are encouraged to keep abreast of managed care transitions in their states, advocate on a state level, and to contact the Medicaid Council with any questions or concerns.