I respectfully disagree with state Rep. David Crum’s support for the Brownback administration’s proposal to hand off community developmental disability services to national health insurance companies (May 17 Opinion). The nonmedical services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities need to be carved out of KanCare, and I/DD parents and advocates are sincerely appreciative that more and more legislators agree with us.
KanCare was devised with little knowledge of Kansas disability services. That was made clear by the decision to assign these services to the insurance industry – an industry that has no experience in the disability service field and, worse, a terrible track record of working with people with disabilities.
Families with autism certainly understand. They saw the insurance industry block action again this year on a law requiring autism insurance coverage. Historically, families with complex disability-related medical challenges have experienced deep frustration and denials of benefits, and have exhausted their energy and often their money jumping through time-consuming administrative hoops of health insurers.
Simply stated, the insurance industry has not demonstrated any level of competence nor commitment to the needs of people with disabilities that would qualify it to control any aspect of the disability service network.
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Crum, an Augusta Republican, pointed to information from a University of Kansas School of Medicine study as a justification for KanCare. But he did not mention that the study was not about managed care, nor did he include that the data was incomplete for more than half the people included in the study. Yet he cited it as proof, somehow, that insurance companies should be placed in charge of long-term support services for Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
I agree with Crum that Kansas has had an excellent track record for community disability services. This is because all the program development has been a shared responsibility between the state’s leaders and community leaders – including families, local governments and professionals.
The KanCare climate is much different. Community leaders are now being criticized for raising the sincere and legitimate concerns of families and people served. This is a bad climate for the continuation of the “excellence” of the current system.
We will continue to urge legislators to look at facts, not fiction, and we will continue to urge the Brownback administration to exclude nonmedical disability services from the KanCare experiment.