TOPEKA — A Kansas legislative committee has launched an audit into potential problems in the state’s delivery of services to the developmentally disabled but a Democratic leader sees the review as retaliation against groups that have criticized Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration.
The audit approved Tuesday by the Post Audit Committee will examine whether conflicts of interest exist in having 27 regional community developmental disability organizations, or CDDOs, act as gatekeepers for developmentally disabled Kansans seeking state-funded services. Some critics of the system have noted that CDDOs can compete with local service providers.
The audit was sought by Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, a Hutchinson Republican, and authorized after the audit committee’s chairman, Sen. Jeff Longbine, an Emporia Republican, broke a tie. The Legislative Division of Post Audit expects to take six months to compile its report.
Some CDDOs have been vocal critics of Brownback’s decision to turn the administration of the state’s Medicaid program over to three private health insurance companies, renaming it KanCare. Long-term services for the developmentally disabled won’t be included until next year in the overhauled program, but some critics want to leave long-term support services for Kansans with intellectual disabilities out of KanCare.
“This audit is the Brownback administration’s political payback for community opposition to the KanCare carve-in of developmental disability services,” Hensley said.
But Longbine said the latest audit will follow up on reports in 1999 and 2003 that identified problems in how Kansas provides services for the developmentally disabled, including how clients are referred to providers and how funding is distributed. And Bruce said a claim that the audit is politically motivated “is simply not true.”
“The goal of the audit is to explore a potentially serious problem and insure the most vulnerable Kansans are receiving the best possible care,” Bruce said.
Kansas covers medical services for more than 390,000 of its residents, and Brownback’s administration contends that having private companies administer the program will provide better-coordinated care at a lower cost to the state.
But many activists have questioned whether the for-profit companies will be stingy when it comes to long-term, in-home services designed to allow the developmentally disabled to live as independently as possible. And the most vigorous lobbying for a permanent “carve out” has come from InterHab, which represents service providers and most of the CDDOs.
InterHab Executive Director Tom Laing has advocated strict monitoring of the KanCare contractors. He said Tuesday that he doesn’t object to the legislative audit but doesn’t believe there’s credible evidence of conflicts of interest.