Topeka — Backed by advocates for Kansans with developmental disabilities, a Republican legislator on Monday urged Gov. Sam Brownback to delay his proposal to privatize Medicaid.
Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, joined a chorus of comments that the move toward managed care was going too fast and had too many unresolved issues.
He noted the request for proposals from managed care companies elicited 1,100 questions from the bidders. “Even the professionals don’t understand what is being suggested, let alone the providers of Medicaid services and those receiving those services,” Kelsey said.
Matt Fletcher, associate executive director of InterHab, called Brownback’s proposed KanCare system an “unproven, untested and unwarranted gamble.”
Sharon Spratt, chief executive officer of Cottonwood Inc. in Lawrence, urged state officials to slow the process. “This is really too fast of a push to put everything into managed care,” she said.
And Chad VonAhnen, director of the Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization, said he has been contacted by many parents who fear that after they are deceased, their child will face a for-profit insurance company to receive long-term assistance and supports.
Brownback, a Republican, has proposed privatizing the Medicaid system, which serves approximately 350,000 Kansans.
The most controversial aspect of the plan is including contracts for people with developmental disabilities. Advocates say the long-term supports needed for people with developmental disabilities don’t fit with a private program to manage healthcare costs. And they said the governor’s plan doesn’t address the nearly 5,000 people with developmental disabilities on a waiting list to receive assistance in their homes.
Brownback administration officials at the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee meeting sought to allay the fears of advocates and legislators.
Shawn Sullivan, secretary of the Kansas Department on Aging, said the administration’s intent is to use the community providers as they are now for at least the three-year life of the proposed contracts.
After hearing Sullivan’s remarks, Spratt said she has heard conflicting opinions coming from the administration on this issue.
Kelsey said he would like to delay implementation of the KanCare program for six months, until July 1, 2013. The current implementation date is Jan. 1, 2013. He said he also would like to remove people with developmental disabilities from the KanCare proposal.
Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the overhaul of the Medicaid system is “almost guaranteed to fall on its face.” She said she would prefer that any changes to Medicaid be phased in over time.