Archive for Wednesday, September 12, 2012

State agency refuses to answer questions from legislators about growing waiting lists

The Kansas Statehouse is seen in downtown Topeka, Kan. Tuesday, June 23, 2009.

The Kansas Statehouse is seen in downtown Topeka, Kan. Tuesday, June 23, 2009.

September 12, 2012


— Gov. Sam Brownback's administration on Wednesday refused to answer questions from legislators about a growing waiting list of poor Kansans with severe disabilities who are seeking assistance.

"I'm flabbergasted," said state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, after Gary Haulmark, who is commissioner of community services and programs for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, refused to answer questions during a public legislative committee meeting.

"This is unprecedented," said state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka. "What's the secrecy about?," she asked.

Haulmark said he was advised by his agency's general counsel not to answer questions on the Home and Community Based Services program due to potential litigation.

The HCBS program is designed to provide assistance to people with physical and developmental disabilities in their homes or communities as an alternative to more expensive and confining nursing home care.

More than 7,500 Kansans are on the waiting list for services or are under-served, up from 2,075 in 2008, according to legislative staff figures.

The federal government has been investigating complaints that the state is violating the civil rights of people who are waiting for help, some of whom have been waiting for years.

Advocates for people with physical disabilities have been filing Olmstead complaints, based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision that says states must provide services to people with disabilities to enable them to be more integrated in the community.

Ami Hyten, assistant executive director for the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, said that under Olmstead, states can have waiting lists, but must provide people with services within a reasonable amount of time.

Earlier this year, negotiations between the Brownback administration and officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services broke down. HHS then forwarded the waiting list complaints to the U.S. Justice Department, which “has made enforcement of Olmstead a top priority.”

Members of the Legislative Budget Committee had scheduled an overview of the HCBS program on Wednesday. After receiving an update from legislative staff on the size of the waiting lists, Haulmark told legislators he had been advised by the general counsel of his agency not to answer any questions.

"That makes absolutely no sense," said Vratil.

Tom Laing, executive director of InterHab, which helps persons with disabilities, said the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has even stopped posting on its website the number of people who are on waiting lists.

Budget Committee Chairwoman Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, asked Haulmark when legislators could expect to get answers to their questions since the Legislature is responsible for funding the program. Haulmark said he didn't know, so McGinn asked that Haulmark bring his general counsel to the committee's meeting on Thursday.

Kathy Lobb of Lawrence, who is with the Self Advocates Coalition of Kansas, said she hoped that projected savings cited by the Brownback administration in its proposed changes to the state Medicaid system, could be used to "get the services" to those on the waiting lists.


Currahee 1 year, 7 months ago

I love the Brownback hate right now, as much BS as this is though. A state agency is supposed to serve the people, not hide from questions. Brownback is actually more in favor of community support because it's quite a lot cheaper than having care at places like KNI, which he tried to chop down a few years ago but fell silent. At the time he argued that KNI funds could be provided to the community, in which case would help solve a bit of the funding issue.

The problem of why people are on waiting lists boils all down to funding most likely. Only so many people can receive services. So basically until someone who is in the community dies, moves, or doesn't need services, the next person gets it.

Please check your facts people you open your mouth. Thanks.


verity 1 year, 7 months ago

And who's paying for the attorney?


msezdsit 1 year, 7 months ago

"Haulmark said he was advised by his agency's general counsel not to answer questions...."

Oh sure, Haulmark would like to talk about the devastation he and his ilk have caused these people, but, shucks, my attorney told me not to. That's all the help these people get


msezdsit 1 year, 7 months ago

Brownback and his minions knew this was coming all along in their slash and burn Kansans to to the stake ideology. This brings the issue to the forefront and these" me first" and "me only" brownbackistans don't want to talk about it because their policy is "out of sight out of mind" when it comes to the people they have devastated.

It does put it into perspective when they aren't even willing to help those who can't help themselves and then brownbackistans response is "who, you talken to me?"

The fake christians are having a hard time faking their fake christian decision that throws people who need help out in the street and, of course, they don't want to talk about it.


mysterytrain 1 year, 7 months ago

NOW can we do a recall? What is it going to take. His administration said something about trying to contact people on the list but not getting responses and that some phones had been disconnected...too little too late maybe eh? What does Brownback have to do to get recalled? Seriously. The emperor of Kansas. Ugh.


Agnostick 1 year, 7 months ago

Silly legislators! Don't these people know that a problem only exists if you acknowledge it ?

As long as Sammy and friends ignore these people with disabilities, they don't have to worry about 'em!



parrotuya 1 year, 7 months ago

What? No tea-bagger shills in the comment room to defend Brownback and his cold-hearted policies? Brownback needs to be demoted back up - back to Washington and the Family on C street.

"There is no propaganda without GOP"


headdoctor 1 year, 7 months ago

As I mentioned in an above post. We may find out it is the Legislators that caused a lot of this problem and it looks like I may have been at least partially correct. This issue was addressed and fought over in the last carry over session which ended in May. They agreed to setting aside more money but it would only shortened one list by a couple hundred people and another list by about three hundred. A far cry from the 7500 on the list. What isn't clear is a lot of this expense is eventually pickup at the Federal level once they are switched over. So why is the State dragging their feet at getting these people on to the Federal programs. Making them wait and have to try to survive on the State's pittance is silly. It is almost as if the State is causing their own problem with money and otherwise. I don't get it unless they are just purposely being mean about getting them help.


RDE87 1 year, 7 months ago

Doesn't Brownback realize by not providing funding to these people in need now their condition could worsen and they could end up in a nursing home/hospital, etc. This would end up costing the government even more money in the long run. You can’t just pretend like this doesn’t exist.


ksjayhawk74 1 year, 7 months ago

It's hard to believe there is a huge health care problem from the same administration that refused $31.5 Million in Federal funding, so that Kansans wouldn't be troubled by easy access to low cost health insurance.


UfoPilot 1 year, 7 months ago

Does the State legislature have a provision for "contempt"? If not , they should, then you could put them in jail until they complied.


Thomas Bryce 1 year, 7 months ago

What is the process for Recalling The Governor in the state of Kansas? I know Scott Walker was recalled(and survived) in Wisconsin. How do you start a Recall Process here in Kansas would be my question. If it takes signatures on a petition, where do I sign?


prospector 1 year, 7 months ago

Emma Sullivan tweeted: “Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person#heblowsalot.”

Emma was right!


geekin_topekan 1 year, 7 months ago

McJack, I said that from the very beginning--mental illness can come in many forms, some are extremely high functioning.


verity 1 year, 7 months ago

Can a state agency legally refuse to answer questions from the state legislature?

If not, what can be done about this unlawful refusal?

I don't have the time to try to research this right now---often questions like this are hard to find answers to---so if anybody knows, I would appreciate answers. Then, if there is legal redress, I want to get it started. We bitch, moan and complain, and I am as guilty as the next person, but this might be the opportunity to start to put a stop to this dismantling of our state.


JackMcKee 1 year, 7 months ago

Brownback thinks he's in line for POTUS. The guy belongs in an asylum.


headdoctor 1 year, 7 months ago

Of course KS. Kansas has less than 7500 new geriatrics added to the population over the last few years. Could you be anymore ignorant?


Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 7 months ago

Do meth, have dumb kids, get the taxpayer to pay. Where you address the problem is pretty simple.


KS 1 year, 7 months ago

I have no doubt that there are people out that that need the help, but it seems more people become disabled in Kansas than grow old. Humm?


cowboy 1 year, 7 months ago

We need to get Detective Dave Trabert on the hunt on this one , DDT for short.

The repubs pulled this same stuff in Arizona resulting in a Federal lawsuit and dame to alot of folks needing care and treatment.


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 7 months ago

So, while Brownback plays footsie and slap and tickle with the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party, the state goes to hell. We have the prison system under Federal investigation with the threat of a DoJ lawsuit, Olmstead complaints right and left with the further threat of DoJ lawsuit and 40 people have been laid off from KDoT. There are god knows how many lawsuits against the state already wending their way through the Federal courts, challenging some of the most Neanderthal legislation to ever come out of the state house, costing the state god knows how much in lawyer and court fees, while Brownback turns down millions of dollars from the Feds because it comes with strings attached and he couldn't do it "his way". In the meantime, you have a SoS tilting at windmills and spending even MORE money to use a jackhammer to slap a gnat.
Wow. Whoda thunk it?
People laughed at me for moving to TN and told me I was just going from one red state to another. Believe me, it ain't NEAR as bad here.


Bladerunner 1 year, 7 months ago

This is exactly why we don't need government in charge of our health care. They are doing such an "awesome" job with a minority of the population. Imagine when they are in charge of the majoritys health care. Can't wait to see that.


Mike1949 1 year, 7 months ago

I think the consumer protection agency (federal) should be investigating all of Brownbacks actions, contacts, deals, . . . everything for fraud. The Kansas consumer has had the Kansas Government commit fraud on every single Kansan who earns less than $250,000 a year!


nell 1 year, 7 months ago

It's telling that the usual right-wing voices haven't piped up...


autie 1 year, 7 months ago

FlintlHawk, I don't think Brownback has any intention of reducing the waiting list. Even now with current allocations if someone leaves the waiver they send that money back to Topeka and no new people in that CDDO come off....nor does it go to number one on the list. And if you think that is bad wait until those money grubbing MCO's get in on the act...add another layer of administration to siphon off funds just like this MTM outfit does with the medical transportation. HCBS waiver recipients in this state are getting buzzed right up tail pipe, mostly so DingDong can claim he cut taxes. Brownback, Moser, Sullivan...all just a bunch of yes men yo yo's in the service of their handlers.


Munsoned 1 year, 7 months ago

"Pro-Life"???????? I must have missed the fine print with the exclusions and the list of those (who already exist outside the womb) who do not quailfy. Effing disgusting.


deec 1 year, 7 months ago

Maybe the legislators can file FOIAs on the executive branch.


FlintHawk 1 year, 7 months ago

My son is one of those on the don't-bother-waiting list of 7,500. When he qualified for the MR/DD program in 2009, we were told it would likely be a 5-year wait — which would have worked out okay, not ideal, but okay. I suppose that the number wait-listed in 2009 was still around 2,000. I'm not the greatest at math, but I think that the increase from 2009-2012 is 261+% — an appalling increase. You may need to correct my math here, but it looks like the increase in those waiting for services would lengthen my son's 5-year wait to 13+ years — too late to help.

Can we assume that the increase is due to program, services and personnel cuts? It seems unlikely that the number of people in Kansas with physical and mental disabilities would have increased so dramatically in 3-4 years.

Sure picked the wrong climate to return to my home state. You think?


tange 1 year, 7 months ago

"The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members..."

/ having now qualified as sub-least, Brownback is worthy of treatment.


costello 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm confused. Didn't the legislature create the agency, give it whatever legal authority it has, and fund it? How can it refuse to answer questions from the legislature?


autie 1 year, 7 months ago

It will be interesting to see how the Brownbackites react if the feds whip them upside the head with some Olmstead. They choose to ignore the ACA and the things necessary to comply and position for the future, they also choose to ignore the most vulnerable of our State. I find the choosing to ignore is not a very good policy for anything, except maybe the flu....I tend to ignore that until I have to have some seven up and nyquil.


question4u 1 year, 7 months ago

The only thing that's surprising is that Brownback's regime should even bother to hide the facts. It's perfectly clear that facts mean little to his supporters. Besides, they are highly unlikely to be upset by about injustice toward the poor and sick. After all, these are people who think it's fair that many of the wealthiest Kansans will pay no state income tax while rates will rise for the poor. The only thing that should leave Vratril "flabbergasted" is that so many Kansans claim to be Christians. Now that's astonishing.


mdlund0 1 year, 7 months ago

Headline should read: "Brownback does not care about welfare of citizens, suggests they eat cake."


KansasLiberal 1 year, 7 months ago

Those people with physical and developmental disabilities should just become fetuses, then Brownback will do everything he can to help and protect them.


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