It’s good to know that state legislators still are trying to address the concerns that families and advocates of developmentally disabled Kansans have about a new managed care system that is part of the governor’s plan to reform Medicaid.
These advocates have accepted the idea of putting medical services for the developmentally disabled under the proposed KanCare managed care system, but they don’t believe the plan can appropriately handle other long-term care needs of this population. Although other advocacy groups are worried about the speed with which the KanCare system is set to be implemented, the developmental disability community, including the local Cottonwood Inc., has special concerns about the impact the system will have on long-term, sometimes around-the-clock, care arrangements that have been carefully tailored to meet individual needs.
Other states that have tried to implement plans similar to the one envisioned for Kansas have experienced various problems, including delays in treatment and provider reimbursements. Although a bipartisan group of legislators has sought to slow the implementation of KanCare, state officials are moving ahead with plans to turn management of the state’s Medicaid program over to three managed care companies on Jan. 1, 2013.
To help address concerns about the shift, a bill has been introduced that would establish a legislative oversight committee for KanCare. Last week, Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, also tried to amend that bill to add a provision that would remove people with developmental disabilities from KanCare and allow them to continue to be served by their current networks. Although both Republican and Democratic legislators spoke in favor of Ward’s amendment, the entire bill was referred back to committee last week before the Kansas House could vote on it.
However, some legislators see broad support for keeping people with developmental disabilities out of the KanCare plan and say they will pursue those efforts when the Legislature returns April 25.
Legislators are right to try to make sure the concerns of the developmental disability community are addressed. Even if the state moves ahead with its ambitious timetable for implementing KanCare, it may make sense to work out some of the kinks in the system before trying to apply it to this vulnerable population.