Archive for Friday, January 3, 2014

Advocates say federal officials have wide range of concerns over Kansas treatment of those with developmental disabilities

January 3, 2014

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— Federal officials have widespread concerns with the way the state is treating Kansans with disabilities, according to advocates.

The dispute is over a program that provides the long-term care and support services for approximately 8,600 people with developmental disabilities that helps them live in their homes and communities.

Gov. Sam Brownback's administration wants to provide those long-term supports through KanCare, his privatization of Medicaid that is administered by for-profit insurance companies.

Several advocacy groups oppose this move. And last month, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put the brakes on the proposed transfer, which had been set for Jan. 1.

Brownback administration officials said the delay centered on how Kansas would handle some 1,700 people who were being "under-served." The state said it hoped to win CMS approval for the change on Feb. 1.

But advocates for those with disabilities have pointed to a 3-page letter from CMS that they say outlines a number of ongoing issues.

"This is more than just a few screws that need to be tightened. These are more substantial concerns," said Tom Laing, executive director of InterHab Inc., which represents most of the state's Community Developmental Disability Organizations.

CMS officials have declined to comment further than the letter.

Angela de Rocha, director of communications for Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, however, said the concerns addressed in the letter will not delay the transition to KanCare indefinitely.

The state is ready, she said, and will use this additional time "to continue to educate consumers, families, stakeholders, and the general community about this transition."

She said the letter emphasizes concerns with the "under-served" waiting list, which she said is a decade-old problem.

Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, said although the CMS letter is bureaucratic in tone, it "is a strong letter that puts the state on notice that you are out of compliance and we mean business."

In addition to concerns about those not receiving all services they are entitled to, the letter said that Kansas must ensure that individuals are provided full due process in case services are reduced or denied and develop a communication plan with stakeholders.

"Kansas must provide weekly reports to CMS on the progress of the corrective action plan," the letter states.

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