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Eagle editorial: Heed pleas of parents on I/DD care

  • Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Gov. Sam Brownback should heed the pleas of parents of intellectually and developmentally disabled Kansans and keep long-term care services out of KanCare.

As one parent begs in a new TV ad: “Don’t hand us over to for-profit insurance companies. My son’s life is too precious for that.”

Parents and other advocates made the same appeal last year when Brownback ordered that the oversight of Medicaid be outsourced to managed-care companies. The advocates argued that the current partnership between state and local governments and service providers works well, and that this vulnerable population shouldn’t be part of a privatization experiment.

After months of resisting, the Brownback administration decided to postpone for one year the date when long-term services became part of KanCare – until Jan. 1, 2014. The hope was that the delay would allow the rest of KanCare to get up and running, thus proving that there wasn’t reason to worry.

The opposite has happened. The rollout of KanCare has made the I/DD community even more concerned, as many parents and guardians have had to wrestle with the insurance companies over medical care.

On the Opinion pages on Sunday, a Newton woman shared the story of how she has been frustrated to the point of tears as she has struggled to get refills of her daughter’s anti-seizure medication.

“Rather than providing better care coordination, KanCare is creating new roadblocks, and making it more difficult to care for my daughter and get the care she needs from providers,” she wrote.

So parents are again pleading with the administration and state lawmakers to exclude long-term care from KanCare.

The odds of that happening don’t look good. A bill by Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, to “carve out” long-term care didn’t get far this session. And the Brownback administration keeps insisting that privatization will improve outcomes – while also saving the state a boatload of money.

But these parents are used to having to fight for their children, and they aren’t giving up.

InterHab, a statewide association of service providers, has launched a “Dear Governor” TV and radio campaign asking Brownback to carve out long-term care services (view the video at invisiblekansans.org). InterHab also is holding a rally at the south steps of the Capitol on May 8, the day legislators are scheduled to return to Topeka to start wrapping up this year’s session.

“Tens of thousands of Kansans feel strongly that we should not experiment with the services that our most vulnerable citizens depend on every day to continue to live in the community,” said Tom Laing, executive director of InterHab.

Will the governor listen?

For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee

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