TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Sam Brownback announced the largest reorganization of state agencies in Kansas history. But those changes are already meeting strong opposition.
"When Lt. Colyer and I took office, the Medicaid system was broke, spread across four state agencies, services were highly fragmented," Brownback said at a news conference at the Statehouse.
Reforming Medicaid was the stated impetus and the governor says reorganizing some state agencies is a strategic path to medicaid reform.
Brownback announced executive order number 41, called ERO 41, while flanked by the heads of the agencies he plans to reorganize - Aging Secretary Shawn Sullivan, SRS Secretary Phyllis Gilmore and KDHE Secretary Bob Moser.
"This reorganizaiton will bring those fragmented services together so we can improve health outcome of vulnerable Kansans," Brownback said.
Under the ERO, the Department on Aging will become the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.
It will absorb the Home and Community Based Services wiavers, mental health programs and addiction programs, as well as all state hospitals and institutions, Brownback's office said, and described as a single stop shop for all long-term care functions.
The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services will become the Department for Children and Families, which will continue to administer Adult Protective Services.
"This reconfiguration of state agencies will allow SRS to strengthen and consolidate its children and family service efforts - strong families make a strong Kansas," SRS Secretary Gilmore said.
The Department of Health and Environment's newest division added last year, the Division of Health Care Finance, will maintain its Medicaid responsibilities through financial management and oversight of KanCare, the proposed integrated medicaid program.
"What we're doing is slowing the growth of Medicaid overall," Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer said. Colyer has been tasked by Brownback to lead the Medicaid reform.
The ERO will take effect July 1, an April 6 deadline to allow the Kansas legislature to weigh in passed without opposition.
But at the county level, service providers for the disabled doubt the planned Medicaid overhaul will benefit those who need it.
Several local leaders spoke out against it at a Shawnee County Commission meeting that same morning.
"What's being proposed is Medicaid, which is the single primary funding source for all persons with developmental disabilities in Kansas, would be administered by the insurance industry, as opposed to the State of Kansas," Tom Laing, Executive Director of InterHab, a statewide association of community service providers, told county commissioners.
Under KanCare, the state would award three private insurance companies with contracts to manage the state's Medicaid program.
"We believe it will be more expensive to do it that way, we believe it'll be an administrative nightmare and we believe that the insurance industry hasn't yet matured yet to where we believe they can be a safety net [with] social concern for people who are vulnerable," Laing said.
"This is happening so fast, families haven't had the opportunity to comprehend what it'll mean to them," Eileen Doran, executive director of TARC Inc. said. She predicted that small service providers would not survive the transition.
Shawnee County commissioners agreed with those advocates and passed a resolution to ask Governor Brownback to exclude disability services from KanCare.
The Brownback administration however says it's precisely those consumers who will see services improve under the new system.