Editorials

Services for disabled also in violation

The state’s home- and community-based services for people with disabilities are out of compliance with federal law.
The state’s home- and community-based services for people with disabilities are out of compliance with federal law.

Not only did federal officials determine last month that KanCare was “substantively out of compliance with federal statutes and regulations,” they determined the previous month that services for people with disabilities were also out of compliance.

Yet state lawmakers had to learn about both decisions by reading about them in the newspaper.

No wonder lawmakers are frustrated. And no wonder disability groups are renewing their call to remove the long-term care of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from KanCare.

Lawmakers were caught off guard when the Topeka Capital-Journal reported in January that the state’s request to extend KanCare contracts beyond this year had been denied. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the state failed to meet federal standards and risked the health and safety of enrollees.

During a heated legislative hearing that followed, lawmakers scolded state officials for not keeping them informed.

But then the Capital-Journal obtained a Dec. 14 letter from CMS saying that the state’s home- and community-based services for people with disabilities were out of compliance with federal law.

This, too, caught lawmakers by surprise.

Problems cited by CMS and reported by the Capital-Journal include: Only 11 percent of autism waiver participants who had a documented change in needs had their plan of care altered; only 49 percent of intellectual and developmentally disabled waiver participants had service plans addressing their goals; and only 50 percent of autism waiver participants received information about how to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation.

CMS required the state to submit a corrective action plan by Jan. 31, which the state did. One of the many changes the state promised was to require written or in-person staff attendance at long-term care meetings.

But disability advocates don’t trust the state to honor its promises. After all, they have complained repeatedly, to little avail, about service issues, denials and lack of transparency.

“The whole administration is so dismissive of our concerns,” said Aldona Carney, a Wichita mother of an adult son with severe disabilities. “It is extremely frustrating.”

Carney and others are calling on lawmakers to carve out long-term disability care from KanCare. They will be in Topeka on Thursday to meet with lawmakers and plead for help.

Some lawmakers met privately with state officials recently to discuss KanCare problems and to complain about being blindsided. Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, said he expects better communication going forward.

Disability advocates don’t feel reassured. Who can blame them?

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