Thursday, July 11, 2013

Advocates for those with developmental disabilities urge attendance at upcoming hearings

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Gov. Sam Brownback succeeded during the last legislative session in thwarting attempts by advocates for those with developmental disabilities from a delay in putting long-term care services under KanCare, the state's new Medicaid system.

But that's not the end of the fight.

The state must get permission from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the proposed change.

On Wednesday, advocates for those with developmental disabilities urged supporters to attend two public hearings to oppose the Brownback plan.

"Even though the Legislature didn't act to delay or carve out those services, CMS could seek a delay or a more comprehensive pilot program," said Tim Wood, manager of the Disability Rights Center's End the Wait campaign.

The hearings are being conducted by the state as required by CMS because the state is seeking a change in its KanCare system effective Jan. 1, 2014.

The meetings will be at 2 p.m. Monday in the Multipurpose Room of the Wichita State University Metroplex and 10 a.m. Tuesday in Topeka in the Madison Ballroom of the Downtown Ramada Inn.

During the past legislative session, parents and those with developmental disabilities urged Brownback to exclude long-term care support for those with developmental disabilities from KanCare, which is Brownback's revamped Medicaid system administered by private insurance companies.

They said long-term care, such as daily help with preparing meals or job coaching, does not fit in the KanCare model and shouldn't be overseen by for-profit managed care organizations.

But the Brownback administration argued that long-term care will be better under KanCare.

Republican allies of Brownback's went even further, pushing through a budget provision that said if long-term care for those with developmental disabilities was kept out of KanCare, then they won't get funding to reduce a waiting list for services.