Saturday, November 8, 2014

Meetings on support programs for Kansans with disabilities set for next week

By Dave Ranney
KHI News Service

TOPEKA, KAN. — The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services next week will convene a series of informational sessions on its efforts to renew the waivers that define the state’s Medicaid-funded home- and community-based services for frail seniors, people with physical and developmental disabilities, and those who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries.

The Kansas Medicaid program was privatized and renamed KanCare in 2013. It’s administered by three managed care companies.

Waiver services for Kansans with developmental disabilities were not included in KanCare until January of this year due to initial opposition from family members and advocates.

The meetings are open to the public. The schedule:

• 10 a.m.–noon Nov. 12, Hughes Metropolitan Complex, 5015 E. 29th, Wichita.

• 10 a.m.–noon Nov. 13, Ambassador Hotel, 3603 Vine St., Hays.

• 10 a.m.–noon Nov. 14, Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center, 200 McDonald Drive, Lawrence.

Preliminary information about the meetings is posted on the KDADS website. Angela de Rocha, a spokesperson for the agency, said additional information will be posted next week.

The purpose of the meetings, she said, is to inform the public about how recent changes in federal rules — made within the past five years — may affect services in Kansas.

The changes are expected to touch on employment opportunities for the disabled, minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for attendant care workers, and less institutional community-based placements — for example, group homes.

It’s not yet clear whether the proposed waivers will include changes that could lead to reductions in services.

“We’re encouraging everyone — consumers, family members, and any and all stakeholders — to be in attendance, absolutely,” said Tim Wood, director of the Community Developmental Disability Organization of Johnson County. “It’s critical that people engage with the state and attempt to better system for the end user, which, of course, is the consumer.”

The waivers that govern the state’s Medicaid-funded services for the frail elderly, physically and developmentally disabled, and traumatic brain-injured expire Dec. 31. The informational sessions are part of the renewal process.

The waiver-renewal process requires KDADS to solicit public input on each of the proposed waivers. It also allows the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to temporarily extend the waivers.

Kansas’ waivers for the brain-injured and the developmentally disabled expired June 30 but were extended to Dec. 31.

“We don’t know for sure at this point, but it’s looking like at least some of the information that’s going to be provided next week will be of very high interest for people with disabilities, advocates, family members and direct support workers,” said Mike Oxford, executive director at the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center. “This could affect all those groups.”