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.


Claudean McKellips 1 year, 7 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.


Pastor_Bedtime 1 year, 7 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.


oklahoma 1 year, 7 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.


Paul R Getto 1 year, 7 months ago

Charge him with contempt of the legislature.


booklover2 1 year, 7 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.


oldbaldguy 1 year, 7 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.


mysterytrain 1 year, 7 months ago

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


autie 1 year, 7 months ago

The state is getting pretty good at canned suveys. Just like all the informational meetings held across the state for "input" from remember, the ones you had to pre-register and pre-submit any questions...that had pre-made results. Then the CMS pre request got prempted because they failed to pre-ask the native american contingent.


costello 1 year, 7 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:


leaningleftist 1 year, 7 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


autie 1 year, 7 months ago

So much much. Mr. Sullivan is apparently completely out of touch with poverty. (phone changed, disconnected, not current address)

If there is no formal investigation why all the hush hush? There would be no client/attorney priviledge to invoke nor proprietary information of any consequence.

Why does our state government keep taking the do nothing approach with no comment?

If we tell ourselves over and over again that the list is bogus it won't be as long as it really may be...??? Really Shawn? You were supposed to be such a bright kid. You might wake up one morning soon and find all 3500 of them out on the lawn.


observant 1 year, 7 months ago

Did you expect anything others than lying excuses from this administration? Hopefully the people wake up by 2014 and brownie gets dumped, Hope Kansas is not beyond recovery by then.


headdoctor 1 year, 7 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.


Claire Williams 1 year, 7 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.


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