Thursday, March 5, 2015

Simple steps to spread awareness this month

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Now is the time to celebrate the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and advocate for their inclusion and independence.

Here are some helpful tips on how to help spread the word and raise awareness.

  1. Update your profile pictures and cover photos. We are becoming a more online-focused society every day. What simpler way to reach a large audience exists than social media? Visit our facebook page to download our D/D Awareness Month cover photo or the InterHab profile picture and update your profile today!
  2. Post, Tweet, Instagram, and Pin like crazy! Post articles, statuses, and photos on facebook, instagram, twitter and pinterest using the hashtags #ddawarenessmonth #ddawareness #spreadthewordtoendtheword & #ddaware
  3. Follow InterHab and other I/DD focused organizations on social media and re-tweet, share, and like posts & updates about awareness. 
  4. Come to Day at the Capitol. March 19th InterHab will be hosting a Day at the Capitol, giving you the chance to talk to legislators about making changes to support Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Learn more here. 
  5. Get to know someone with a disability. If you don't know someone with an intellectual or developmental disability you should. Make friends and share their inspiring stories with people you know or blog about it online!
  6. Talk to your children. Encourage your children to understand, respect, and include kids with disabilities. 
  7. Contact your legislators and local policymakers. Email, write, or call your local officials and let them know you expect them to promote bills and policies that benefit people with I/DD. 
 Together we can make a better, diverse, and inclusive community. Contact InterHab to learn more.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

KDADS vows to improve conditions at Osawatomie State Hospital

Nearly 100 people attended a Town Hall meeting on Monday in Osawatomie to discuss the conditions at the state mental hospital.

The town hall came as a result of state and federal surveyors citing the hospital twice in four and a half months for being overcrowded, providing poor care, and not doing enough to prevent suicidal patients from harming themselves. 

Senator Molly Baumgardner organized the town hall and asked Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Kari Bruffett to respond to rumors of closure. 

"There are no plans to close Osawatomie State Hospital," Bruffett said.

Bruffett, KDADS Superintendent Jerry Rea asked the audience for their help in the agency's effort to recruit, hire, and retain additional staff. 

Their request prompted many in the audience to remind KDADS officials that working conditions at the hospital have been in decline for several years. 

The meeting ended with Bruffett agreeing to keep the Baumgardner-led group abreast of KDADS efforts to reduce overtime, enhance training. improve communication, and measure the effectiveness of the hospital's programs. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Proposal would delay KanCare health home expansion

Sen. Jim Denning, Republican from Overland Park,
drafted a budget proviso to delay health home implementation.  
The Senate Ways and Means Committee has adopted a budget proviso that's expected to delay the implementation of "health homes" for certain KanCare patients.

The proviso, drafted by Sen. Jim Denning, stipulates that no state money shall be spent on KanCare health homes for chronic conditions without the Legislature's explicit consent through June 30, 2017.

"I don't think we should be pushing another (health home) program until we see how the first one works," Denning said according to KHI News.

"We have anecdotal information from the mental health centers that it (health home model) is working and the advocates say they like it," he said. "But I think we need to wait until we have some hard outcome measures to see if A) it's actually improving patient care and B) it's bending the cost curve.

Denning's proviso is expected to pass the Senate and likely meet little resistance from the House.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Email your House member TODAY to urge a YES vote for HB 2170

HB 2170 would become state law governing the uses of seclusion and restraints in our public schools. This issue has been around the Statehouse for nearly a decade, and it is time for it to be resolved.

Some schools have said they don't need a law, their policies are fine, to which we have said, this law is not written to address the majority of schools which do the right things, this law is written to make enforcement possible, with the weight of the law, for schools that do NOT do the right thing.

Others have said, why not just keep these as rules and regulations .. to which we have asked would we consider it OK for "rules" instead of "laws" to be in place when we, as adults, are improperly manhandled by someone else? The improper uses of restraints and seclusion are sometimes a result of school personnel not managing their own behavior, and the result -- in the adult world -- at a minimum would be the charge of battery, or worse.

Simply stated, there should be a law against practices which put children at risk. Now is the time to make it happen. Urge your member of the Kansas House to vote YES for HB 2170. Do so today, for the bill is on the house floor and could be acted on as early as tomorrow.


The following is a draft message proposed by the Disability Rights Center:

Hi, I am a voter in your House District. Substitute for HB 2170 will be voted on by the full House this week. Will you please vote YES on Sub. for HB 2170? Please let me know where you stand. I support this bill and I am following it with interest. 

Kansas parents have been waiting TEN YEARS for an effective policy to protect their children from the dangerous and deadly tactics of restraint and seclusion in public schools. 

This bill is a compromise. The underlying policy was originally written by staff at the Kansas State Department of Education. It is based on the current regulation, but it fixes the fatal flaws in that policy. This bill also follows the common-sense recommendations from the US Dept. of Education on restraint and seclusion. It is supported by Kansas families and 30 Kansas disability organizations. Even the Kansas Association of School Boards is neutral on the bill. The bill ensures accountability and school safety in a reasonable and fair manner. This bill would create common sense standards to protect students and teachers alike from the dangerous use of restraint and seclusion. It has no fiscal cost. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Senate committee passes mental health drug bill

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee passed a bill yesterday that would allow KanCare managed care companies to regulate mental health patients' access to anti-psychotic medications. 

Mental health advocates oppose the bill, warning legislators that it would add administrative barriers to a treatment system that is already challenging to navigate, send some high-risk patients into crises, and shift a sizable portion of the system's costs onto hospitals and jails. 

Currently, state law guarantees Medicaid patients' access to whatever behavioral health drugs their physician or psychiatrist sees fit to prescribe. The bill, SB 123, would allow the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to decide how managed care companies would be allowed to regulate patients' access to mental health drugs. 

Bills introduced in the Senate are expected to pass the chamber by Feb. 27, before being referred to the House. 

KDADS to restructure grants for advocacy groups

KDADS Secretary Kari Bruffett
Photo courtesy of KHI News. 
The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services recently announced that it will not renew its grants with five in-state organizations that advocate for people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, addiction issues, or for emotionally disturbed children.

The grants, totaling $518,000, will end June 30th of this year.

Appearing last week before the House Social Services Budget Committee, KDADS Secretary Kari Bruffett said the department's decision not to renew its grants was driven by its desire to reconfigure the five programs in ways meant to break down some of the "compartmentalization" that separates some of its grantees.

KDADS posted a formal request for information on its website asking providers to suggest ways to improve the current network of services.

Learn More...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

State hospital funding freeze moves forward

Kansas won't be allocating any additional funds to its four hospitals that serve people with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness.
House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey.
Photo courtesy of KHI News

Budget committees in the House and the Senate have adopted Gov. Brownback's plan for keeping the hospitals at their current spending levels through 2017.

Committee members did not discuss recent reports that renovations in Osawatomie State Hospital's deficiency correction plan are expected to cost $3 million. This comes at the heels of federal surveyors citing the hospital for overcrowding and other concerns. If these deficiencies aren't corrected the hospital will lose millions of dollars in federal Medicaid payments.

House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey said Monday that under-staffing is a key issues for many of the facility's shortcomings. Vickrey said he and other area legislators asked KDADS Secretary Kari Bruffett to put together a plan to reduce direct-care worker turnover in Kansas.

Vickrey and Sen. Molly Baumgardner plan to organize a public forum where employees, family members, and community members can weigh in on the hospital's future. According to Baumgardner, KDADS officials will attend the forum tentatively set for the evening of March 2, or 3.

Read more.