Thursday, April 28, 2016

KDHE could face cuts under Brownback's options

Gov. Brownback looks to KDHE cuts in response to
 budget shortfall. File photo by Orlin Wagner - AP 
One way Governor Sam Brownback is suggesting the state patch it's budget hole includes a $35 million cut to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

According to KHI News, the cut will likely force KDHE to reduce payments to the three managed care organizations that administer KanCare, the Medicaid program in Kansas. The companies likely would pass on those cuts in the form of lower reimbursements to health providers.

In addition to the KDHE cuts, Brownback would also take $185 million from the state highway fund, and cut spending to state universities by 3 percent, about $17 million, for the fiscal year beginning July 1. That would continue a 3 percent cut he ordered earlier this month.

Read more. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Legislative Update: lawmakers preview Governor's budget recommendations

Gloom and criticism overcome the fading voices of false optimism; Medicaid provider rate cuts are on the table.

Tim Wood and Barb Conant of InterHab, attended this morning's Administration briefing of the joint legislative budget committees. The briefing was not warmly received by legislators.  Democrats were highly critical of the poor budget cutting choices being demanded by another round of lowered revenue expectations. Legislative GOP leaders were grim and seldom was heard an encouraging word (and yes, Governor, the skies are NOT sunny today).

In addition to picking on his recurring targets (universities, highways and pension funds) the Governor's people admitted today that yes, it is likely that Medicaid provider rates would be the only area to cut in the KanCare program.

The budget committees are meeting separately this afternoon and into tomorrow. More will be reported when more is known about how they intend to approach this mess.

All in all, things are getting darker in the Statehouse. One question remains as to whether the tiny candle of common sense will survive which has continued to shed a little glimmer of light on the glaring need for tax adjustments. But maybe even the bigger question is this:

Have Kansans in all walks of life finally had enough of the wrecking ball of State budget cuts?

For sure, these items can be reported to your community supporters:

Medicaid cuts will hurt providers, and will damage critically needed services for Kansans with disabilities. State legislators MUST do something to bring fiscal stability back to the State to assure that budget instability will be resolved and to protect Kansas citizens from program failures.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

CMS releases FAQs

This week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released additional Frequently Asked Questions on implementation activities associated with the home and community-based services final regulation.

Specifically, guidance is provided on how CMS will review requests to build new settings in categories that are presumed to be institutional in nature. The guidance also identifies the components of person-centered planning regulatory requirements that are in effect now and those that are part of the home and community-based settings transition period in effect through March 2019.

This information is part of an ongoing effort to assist states in meeting regulatory requirements for residential and non-residential home and community-based settings.

The full Home and community-based services (HCBS) toolkit, including the updated portions, is available online here. 

KHI Reports: KDADS interim secretary to lead bone marrow drive for Parsons employee

KHI News reported the following article about interim KDADS secretary Tim Keck.

KDADS interim secretary to lead bone marrow drive for Parsons employee
Agency leader has emphasized boosting staff morale at state hospitals
By Andy Marso | April 14, 2016

Since he took over as interim secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, Tim Keck has emphasized improving morale at state hospitals by letting employees know they are appreciated and their concerns are heard.

Now Keck is backing up those words with action of a personal sort, encouraging KDADS employees to participate in a bone marrow drive on behalf of a co-worker in need of a transplant.

In a statement released Wednesday, Keck said he plans to be first in line next week when agency employees get their cheeks swabbed to determine whether they’re a match for Zach Williams, who has acute myeloid leukemia.

“Every KDADS employee understands the importance of helping Zach and his family in their time of need, especially facing an uncertain future,” Keck said. “It’s part of the mission of the agency — to foster an environment that promotes security, dignity and independence — and I will be the first donor in line.”

Photo by Courtesy Zach Williams, a mental health
 developmental disability technician at Parsons State Hospital and
Training Center, was diagnosed earlier this year with acute
myeloid leukemia. Co-workers are organizing a bone marrow drive
in hopes of finding a donor. Williams is pictured with his son Jaqwuan.
Williams is a mental health developmental disability technician at Parsons State Hospital and Training Center, one of two state facilities for Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Keck’s comments about employee morale primarily have been geared toward the state’s two facilities that serve Kansans with mental illnesses in Osawatomie and Larned and have struggled to recruit and retain staff.

Williams, a father of four, was diagnosed in February by doctors who told him he could expect to live only a few more months.

But physicians at a specialized cancer care center in Chicago had a more optimistic prognosis — if Williams can find a bone marrow donor who is at least a 50 percent match. None of the 22 million U.S. donors currently registered fit the criteria.

Williams is African-American, a demographic that is underrepresented on the registry.

“We need more African-American donors,” he said. “Even if someone doesn’t match me, they could save someone else.”

The bone marrow drive is being organized by Marlys Shomber-Jones, program manager at the Parsons hospital.

Shomber-Jones said there are 14,000 Americans awaiting a bone marrow match.

“Patients are most likely to match donors who share their ancestry, which means that a more diverse registry will raise the odds of matches for African-American patients like Zach who are in need of a life-saving transplant,” Shomber-Jones said. “Unfortunately, less than half of patients with ethnic backgrounds searching for a transplant will find one due to lack of diversity on the registry.”

KHI Article

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Starkey receives Over the Years Award

Starkey, the oldest community-based nonprofit in Sedgwick County, was presented with the Over The Years Award by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The award recognizes businesses and organizations that are good, longstanding corporate citizens and major contributors to the community’s economic well-being.

The award was presented to Colin McKenney, Chief Executive Officer, on April 7, at the Chamber’s annual Honors Night.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Local inventors in finals of national competition to help people with disabilities

Students from Gardner Edgerton High School  will soon go to the finals of the SourceAmerica Design Challenge, an annual national engineering competition in which high school students create technology that assists adults with disabilities in their workplaces.

The team designed a device called CAPS for Roy, a person served by Johnson County Developmental Supports, to help him with his job of packaging drywall screws and anchors.

Fox4 News reported that the invention has helped Roy increase his productivity by 40 percent and has given him increased independence.

Learn more.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Kathleen Sebelius visits Topeka YWCA - calls for Medicaid expansion

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, center, takes
photos with supporters after giving a speech Wednesday afternoon at the YWCA.

Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas governor, calls for Medicaid expansion, lower food sales tax: Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius made a pitch Wednesday for expansion of Medicaid in Kansas, urged women to assume a more active role in politics and denounced escalation of a sales tax on food by the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback.