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KanCare debate focuses on disabled

5/8/2013

By KALEY CONNER

By KALEY CONNER

kconner@dailynews.net

As the legislative session comes to a close, intensity is building in the debate of whether long-term developmental disability services should be included in the state's revamped Medicaid program, KanCare.

Advocates throughout the state are continuing to seek a permanent "carve-out" for long-term care provided to Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A crowd is expected to gather on the Capitol's south lawn today in a final "push" to communicate their concerns, said Jerry Michaud, president of Hays-based Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas.

"We really are at a pivot point on this issue," he said. "We continue to raise our voices, not to be sticks in the mud, we raise them because we continue to see the importance of raising that issue."

Since Jan. 1, the state's Medicaid program has been administered by three for-profit insurance companies. Community IDD service advocates have insisted the state's new managed care model is not the right fit for the services they provide.

Gov. Sam Brownback's administration also has ramped up efforts to lobby for the inclusion of all long-term services in the new program, which the administration said will cut costs and improve outcomes by coordinating long-term and medical care.

Information posted on the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services addresses the "misinformation campaign" targeting the intellectual and developmental disability community.

"Managed care through the KanCare managed care organizations is the financing mechanism that allows the state to pay for the outcomes it desired," the KDADS document states, in part. "The old Medicaid and home- and community-based services systems, with little accountability, are quickly going by the wayside across the country."

Interhab, the state's largest IDD advocacy organization, was quick to retaliate by preparing a document of its own. Community-based service providers are subject to federal, state and local regulations and licensing standards, and the facilities are monitored by state officials, the document states.

Interhab also took issue with KDADS' claim community services are "going by the wayside" in favor of managed care models. Their document says 46 states and Washington, D.C., continue to offer waiver-based services.

"The whole matter of KanCare has just become a point of friction, and I honestly wish that weren't the case," Michaud said. "But some of the things that are being portrayed about the community are not necessarily a fair picture."

A small portion of DSNWK's services were included Jan. 1 in KanCare, while remaining aspects of long-term care are set to be "carved-in" at the beginning of 2014 unless the Legislature, which resumes today, takes action.

DSNWK has reported concerns with the incorporated services, including delayed payments. State officials said the state is working to resolve reported difficulties.

"We think the people who are receiving these services will get better care under a managed care organization. Their care will be coordinated," KDADS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha previously told The Hays Daily News. "Someone will be paying specific attention to whether their three kinds of care mesh and work for them."