Gov. Sam Brownback leaves as his legacy two experiments: massive tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy and privatized Medicaid he dubbed KanCare.
But another round of tax cuts is not coming. KanCare 2.0 is.
KanCare 1.0 was rolled out in 2013. Although recipients were promised they would not lose services, many did. My Managed Care Organization tried to cut my overnight help from all month to three weeks. My late brother John spent hours on the phone stopping that from taking effect; others haven’t been as lucky.
Many have lost care hours or services despite what state agencies said in public hearings in 2012. The stated purpose of those sessions was gathering input from consumers. In reality, they were sales presentations to convince us KanCare was the greatest thing since sliced bread. At one, set to end at 5 p.m., state officials said they’d stay to answer all questions. When every question was as best skeptical, Plan B was scrapped.
KanCare 1.0 was supposed to produced savings to be used to significantly reduced the Physically Disabled and Intellectually/Developmentally Disabled waivers waiting lists. This proved only partially correct.
As of September 2016, according to a report to the Legislature, the Physically Disabled waiting list had 177 names on it but the Intellectually/Developmentally Disabled list had more than 8,000.
Tim Wood, executive director of Interhab, a lobbying group for I/DD service providers, said many problems with KanCare 1.0 have yet to be solved. Despite this, Brownback still submitted version 2.0 to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Wood noted that since Brownback took office in 2011, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Department of Disability and Services have had seven directors between them. These constant changes in leadership make consistent oversight of the three MCOs impossible.
That no doubt has contributed to the fact that plans of care no longer meet the needs of the I/DD community. Before KanCare. 99 percent of plans did. Now the rate is a shocking 48 percent.
Wood also said outcomes have not improved with KanCare. Brownback said they would, but he also said the tax cuts would pay for themselves by putting our economy in overdrive.
Brownback, a Republican, should hate paperwork and red tape and claims to, but his health-care experiment has burdened I/DD service providers with his avowed foes, and many have shut their doors.
In the eight years since KanCare began, I have focused exclusively on how it hurts the disabled, part of a group called the most vulnerable. But the poor and their children also belong to it.
KanCare 2.0 would drop them at age 9. Asthma and others conditions have no age limit.
Voters should ask state candidates if they back KanCare and disqualify those who do.
David P. Rundle of Wichita is a freelance journalist.