Kansas Governor Moves To Shrink Waiting List For Disabled

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says the state will move more quickly than expected to shrink waiting lists for disabled residents who are seeking in-home services.

Brownback announced Wednesday that his administration is immediately releasing funds set aside by lawmakers earlier this year to address the waiting lists. Those funds will total $37 million over the next two years.

Advocates for the disabled had worried that the administration would wait until early next year. Brownback acknowledged that it initially was a possibility because of how the state budget had been written.

He said 650 of the 5,000 disabled Kansans on waiting lists will receive services.

The extra funds come from savings from an overhaul of the state's Medicaid program, which covers health care for the needy and disabled.

Complete news release from the Governor's office:

Today Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, along with Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D., and Secretary of Health and Environment Robert Moser, M.D., announced that savings from care coordination under the new KanCare Medicaid program will bring in-home services to hundreds of additional people with physical and intellectual/developmental disabilities.

“This commitment will allow an estimated 250 developmentally disabled and 400 physically disabled Kansans to begin living more independent and fulfilling lives in the community,” Governor Brownback said. “It is something Kansans are proud to support.”

The dividends realized by KanCare savings will substantially reduce the time it takes for consumers to receive in-home services. The total amount of savings dedicated to the waiting list is $37 million in both state and federal funds during State Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. Services will become available as the necessary community supports are in place to begin reducing waiting lists for eligible consumers.

Kansas offers Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) through Medicaid waivers. These services, which are provided along with medical care, are designed to help people remain in their homes. Changes in the way Medicaid services are coordinated under the new KanCare program are allowing the state to reduce waiting lists which have existed since 2000.

“For the majority of these people, the wait has been more than weeks and months; the wait for services has taken years,” Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer said.

The 2013 Kansas Legislature approved funding to reduce the waiting lists for people with physical and intellectual/ developmental disabilities (I/DD). An additional proviso made the funds related to the I/DD waiver contingent upon the Jan. 1, 2014, inclusion of the I/DD waiver services in KanCare. In August, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the State’s Medicaid agency, submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) a waiver amendment to include these services in KanCare.

“Serving the needs of our consumers though integrated care and incorporating all Medicaid services in the individual’s plan of care will result in better outcomes for the individual, the families and for the delivery system as a whole,” said Dr. Moser.

Since July, approximately 70 people with physical disabilities have come off the waiting list with an expected total of 400 people by the end of FY 2014. The waiting list for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is projected to see a slightly smaller reduction, removing approximately 250 people by the end of FY 2014.