Archive for Thursday, September 13, 2012

Statehouse Live: Secretary says no formal investigation under way from feds on social service waiting lists

September 13, 2012


— The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback has been under fire for not providing help for thousands of poor Kansans with physical disabilities, but on Thursday a high-ranking administration official questioned "the integrity" of the waiting list for those services.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Shawn Sullivan said the agency had doubts about how many of the 3,462 people on the physically disabled waiting list for home and community-based assistance really needed that help.

He said KDADS recently contracted with a call center to contact those people and were only able to reach 377, or 11 percent of the people on the list.

More than 1,100 people had contact numbers that either had been disconnected, the person didn't live at that address, or it was an incorrect number, he said. "That made us question even more the integrity of that waiting list," Sullivan said.

Of the 377 that were contacted, 63 said they no longer needed the services or had moved out of state, he said.

But the leader of the Topeka Independent Resource Center said that organization had a different experience when contacting people on the waiting list after KDAD told advocates to review their lists.

Of the 177 names given to the Topeka group, half were contacted within two weeks, said Ami Hyten, assistant executive director.

"The majority of people with whom we have connected give a resounding `Yes' when asked if they still need in-home services and supports," Hyten said. "Some of these people have been waiting for services since April 2009," she said.

She said about a dozen declined services including those who had received assistance through another program, had moved out of state, or had passed away.

The home and community-based program, called HCBS, is designed to provide assistance to those with disabilities in their homes or communities as an alternative to more expensive and confining nursing home care.

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.

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 said enforcement of the Olmstead ruling is a top priority of the agency.

On Thursday, Secretary Sullivan said there was no formal investigation by the Justice Department under way into Kansas' growing waiting lists.

But because of the potential for litigation, he said he could not talk about the state's discussions with the Justice Department or specific complaints.

Sullivan's testimony came one day after another high-ranking Brownback administration official refused to answer questions from legislators about the HCBS program, citing potential litigation. That brought criticism from several legislators.

Sullivan then came to the committee meeting on Thursday and said officials decided they could talk to the committee about the program but not about any potential legal issues.

"There are reasons for us to be cautious in our approach," he said. He said he was confident the state is in compliance with federal law.

Committee Chair State Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said she hoped state officials wouldn't use pending or possible litigation as a reason not to talk to legislators who are responsible for funding and policy decisions.


Claire Williams 5 years, 9 months ago

I fail to see how the disconnection of a number or change of address would change the validity of that person on the waiting list. If the list is several years long, one would imagine people might move during that time period. That doesn't mean they should give up their place in line.

They had to go through a process to get added to the waiting list, and should be considered still on that waiting list regardless of the current status of their contact information.

FlintHawk 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree. Furthermore, I believe those persons wait-listed have to re-qualify every 2 years. I think it used to be longer (re-qualification) and that the shorter period is one of Sammy's "improvements." The re-evaluation involves considerable testing, paid for by either the State or the individual.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

I think it's the other way around. You have to qualify to be on the waiting list, and you used to have to go through the baseline interview process every year, even though you weren't getting any services. Now they don't do the interview until you're actually off of the waiting list. Or at least that's what I've heard. Someone should probably check on this.

FlintHawk 5 years, 9 months ago

choot — My son qualified in Dec 2010. The application process was rigorous, and we had to have a lot of testing done. Obviously, because they're so back-logged, the application process is geared to eliminate people. Fortunately, at that time, the MR/DD application coincided with USD 497 testing for his Triennial IEP re-eval. Now we have to have all the 2010 testing done again and submitted by Dec 2013. I don't believe there's another interview. This is just from our experience; I don't what the regs are.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

Ok - so you go through the interview process every three years maybe? At any rate, it's pretty clear that the implication people are just stuffing their names on the waiting list without any need for services is bogus.

avarom 5 years, 9 months ago

Are you sure its a waiting list and Not a Black LIst. People die waiting.....?

headdoctor 5 years, 9 months ago

This is garbage in a feeble attempt at damage control. All they have done now is prove that the stories about the state using every excuse they can to stall is true.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

And also showing that Shawn Sullivan is either incompetent or a liar. He doesn't know how the waiting list works, or he's deliberately misleading reporters.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

He may have been lied to? About the way the organization he runs works? Can he not read the very documentation his organization publishes?

FlintHawk 5 years, 9 months ago

How did the number move down from 7,500 yesterday? Was that an LJW goof or did someone in the State give out a wrong number?

FlintHawk 5 years, 9 months ago

Someone just emailed me the answer to my question. I'll post it here in case others were as confused as I was. Knowing this makes it worse somehow.

"The combined physically disabled and developmentally disabled waiting lists are more than 7500. the state is only contesting the integrity of the physically disabled, which is the 3500 number."

leaningleftist 5 years, 9 months ago

Its a disgrace. Find it hard to utter "administration" and associate it with this bunch, seems like we should administer some frustration w the lack of representation with brownhole and his group

costello 5 years, 9 months ago

According to the Wichita paper:

"A telephone survey by a third-party company in July reached only 377 of the 3,462 waiting for in-home or community-based services, Secretary of Aging and Disability Services Shawn Sullivan told the Legislative Budget Committee on Thursday.

"Of those 377 people reached by phone, 63 people said they have moved out of state or no longer need services, Sullivan said."

Read more here:

FlintHawk 5 years, 9 months ago

Wow. That's a pretty small number (377). They're using THAT to justify their lack of action?! Deplorable.

I wonder, on any list of individuals what percentage would have moved or no longer met the requirements in a 3+ year period? E.g., given a list of plumbers in the State of Kansas made in 2009, how many would still be in business in Kansas in July 2012?

Their reasoning is SO bogus!

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

A third party telephone survey, huh. Gosh, I'm shocked that they had such a low response rate. I know I always love answering those.

Now - here's the other question. If the waiting list is really so short, how come people are still waiting for years and years to get services? Does that mean that the state is even worse at offering MR/DD waiver services than they've indicated?

FlintHawk 5 years, 9 months ago

Good point. If I don't answer the phone when the Survey folks call (which I wouldn't because of Caller ID), do they mark me down as "Missing"? How many times did the callers try to connect with the people on the list? I'd be surprised if they called more than once. The cost, you know. Still, I think the no-response number is low — esp. given how much the State is making of it.

Anne Tangeman 5 years, 9 months ago

Recall brownie. This has gotten so out of hand. He does whatever he wants.

kernal 5 years, 9 months ago

No recalls in KS and this legislature certainly isn't going to work on a bill to change that.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 9 months ago

lying sobs. they as in sullivan himself had no answer when asked if Kancare will shorten or eliminate the waiting list for the HCBS waiver. thats because they do not know or do not care. ask the worker bees at department of aging or dcf what they think about this.

booklover2 5 years, 9 months ago

I think it is likely that these people can no longer afford a phone, or a place to live, and they are homeless.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

Charge him with contempt of the legislature.

oklahoma 5 years, 9 months ago

If one is on a waiting list for something, it seems personal responsibility would cause one to take ownership to keep the holder of the list up to date on changes in personal information (address, telephone number, etc.). Most telephone number changes these days are not due to being homeless, they are due to dropping land lines and changing to cellular phone numbers.

When the call comes in for one's turn to get free services, and one fails to answer the call, how can one blame the caller for a problem caused by one's lack of responsiveness?

Has KDADS been in charge of MR/DD forever, or just since July? If just since July, isn't the past agency more at fault than Secretary Sullivan's organiztion, who is now left to pick up the pieces?

Does anyone really believe that the Governor has time to think to himself, "let's save money by denying benefits to MR/DD residents who legitimately need help?"

I think well-founded criticism is appropriate. The posters here (and the ever-factually challenged reporter) are being radical in the criticism. Further, does anyone know such a family truly waiting for services, and has that family contacted KDADS now that the effort is being made to help them, and what was the result? Sullivan strikes me as someone who would work to right a wrong, hence the effort to call everyone on the waiting list after taking over an area that was mismanaged.

Just some random thoughts.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 9 months ago

yes i do. you are correct the current administration is not solely to blame, this goes back years.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

The call survey was by a third party, so it may not have appeared that people were being called in order to offer them services.

KDADS has recently become in charge of these services, as part of Brownback's re-organization.

Yes. In addition, privatizing these services, as this administration is in the process of doing, will almost certainly result in lower quality and availability of services, without saving the state any money.

My wife works with the DD population, and knows many such families, that have been waiting for years for services. And, your perception seems off to me - there's no indication that this survey was made for the purposes of helping these people.

Problems with the waiting lists, and services like these in general, can, in my estimation, be traced to funding, for the most part. While they may have been ongoing, this administration has shown a willingness to cut funding to this area, and is privatizing these services.

Finally, the part of the waiting list that's being contested is the physical disability side, not MR/DD.

But, as somebody who works in the field, and has for over 25 years, my wife has nothing good to say about Brownback regarding MR/DD services either.

BigDog 5 years, 9 months ago

The ironic thing about what you say here about privatization .... the exact same thing was said when DD services were privatized from being run by the state.

And by the way many of these waiting lists were started under Governor Sebelius .... who now as Secretary of Health and Human Services has ordered the investigation of whether the waiting lists violate Olmstead decision. I guess she either saw the light or didn't care when she was Governor of Kansas.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

Could be - that must have been some time ago.

And, I have no idea whether or not those services are better today than they were when the state administered them - do you know?

You'd have to ask her - I'm sure you can find her contact information online.

As I said, problems with funding and waiting lists may be ongoing, but this administration is cutting funding and privatizing services, which won't help, and will almost certainly hurt.

Also, while non-profit agencies can provide DD services, there's a tremendous amount of both federal and state oversight of those - when the state says they have no idea how the MCO will handle DD case management, that indicates a rather striking lack of interest in such oversight.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 9 months ago

Between this and the DMV fiasco, it makes one wonder just what Brownie CAN accomplish ~ other than social engineering and pandering to his Koch overlords ~ as he's showing more and more what a failure he is.

Claudean McKellips 5 years, 9 months ago

Brownback has proven again that he can produce tax cuts for his corrupt billionaire buddies (like the Kochs) on the backs of the working poor, children, and people with disabilities.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

The Kochs are not corrupt, just influential. Their ilk and their minions can be defeated at the polls if enough SHEEPLE wake up and vote.

deec 5 years, 9 months ago

If you look at their record in terms of violating federal environmental laws, stealing oil from indigenous peoples and such, I think you could easily make the argument that they are corrupt. That's without even considering their legal bribery of politicians through campaign contributions and funding of fake grassroots organizations like the tea party to influence and create self-serving public policy.

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