KDADS reaches settlement for state-funded nursing homes for mental illness

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Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 12:15 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A pre-litigation agreement has been reached by KDADS and the Disability Rights Center regarding state-funded nursing homes for those with mental illnesses.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services says it reached a pre-litigation agreement on Tuesday with the Disability Rights Center of Kansas. It said the settlement is in response to a demand letter issued to KDADS Secretary Laura Howard and Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman.

In May 2019, KDADS said DRC issued an investigative report into the Sunflower state’s 10 state-funded nursing homes for mental health. It said the report addressed the decline in state funding for community mental health services from Fiscal Year 2007 - Fiscal Year 2018 and institutional care funding in Kansas.

“KDADS, Governor Kelly and the Kansas Legislature have worked hard over the past three years to improve behavioral health services in Kansas. This agreement continues us down the path of strengthening the continuum of care for individuals needing mental health services with a focus on community-based options,” Secretary Howard said. “We are pleased to make progress for individuals residing in Kansas’ nursing facilities for mental health now and in the future.”

According to KDADS, the report was followed by a demand letter, issued on June 18, 2020, which alleged discrimination against those with mental illness in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act and the Medicaid Act’s Preadmission Screening and Resident Review requirements. The letter was submitted by DRC for the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center and the “hundreds of individuals with mental illness who are needlessly institutionalized.”

Two national partners joined DRC for the settlement: the Center for Public Representation, a public interest law firm, and AARP Foundation, the charitable arm of AARP. Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P. served as local counsel.

According to KDADS, the agreement that was reached identifies eight Practice Improvements the state is required to implement over the next eight years:

  • Increase the number of nursing homes for mental health residents that receive special services
  • Give information and informed choices about community options to residents in nursing homes for mental health
  • Give information and help to address barriers to community transition to residents of nursing homes for mental health
  • Expand supported housing options statewide for the target population
  • Expand supported employment throughout the state for the target population
  • Case managers will develop person-centered plans that include specialized services and transition to the community upon admission to nursing homes for mental health
  • Increase peer support
  • Develop Flexible Assertive Community Treatment Teams and Mobile Crisis Intervention and Stabilization Services with CMS approval of a State Plan Amendment that will support Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics provider types statewide.

KDADS said the agreement also provides for three outcomes with targeted goals over the next five years:

  • Reduction in the number of referrals for admission of at-risk populations and admissions to nursing homes for mental health by 10% each year
  • Reduction in the number of nursing homes for mental health residents by a target number each year with an average length of stay of more than six months
  • Increase in the number of residents discharged from a nursing home for mental health into community services and remain in the community for 12 months by 20%

According to the Department, much of the funding to support the outcomes has already been earmarked in the FY 2022 budget, which was approved by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly.

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