Friday, January 20, 2012

"Spokesmen for the developmentally disabled pan Brownback Medicaid plan"

"Parents and others say KanCare proposal is untried and hasty"

By Mike Shields
KHI News Service
Jan. 19, 2012

"TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to include services for the developmentally disabled in upcoming Medicaid managed care contracts drew rebuke Thursday from spokesmen for disability groups and parents who said the administration's KanCare proposal was untried and moving too quickly. They urged legislators to intervene.

"Legislators should be asking tough questions," said Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center, speaking on behalf of the Big Tent Coalition before the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee as it held a fifth day of hearings on KanCare.

Administration officials on Nov. 8 announced they intended to privatize the Kansas Medicaid program, expanding managed care to include services for the elderly, disabled and the mentally ill. Two managed care companies already provide Medicaid-financed health services through the Kansas HealthWave program, which covers children and pregnant women from low-income families.

The governor's proposal calls for an "all-in" approach to Medicaid managed care with full implementation statewide starting Jan. 1, 2013. Officials say they plan to divide the work evenly among three companies. Kansas Medicaid serves about 350,000 people a year at an annual cost of about $2.8 billion.

Many states use managed care companies in their Medicaid programs, but only a handful have included services for the developmentally disabled in their contracts and none of them did it the way or as quickly as the Brownback administration proposes.

"Why rush?" Nichols asked the committee members. "Other states have taken their time."

Nichols and others also said that the states that had included the developmentally disabled in managed care plans had eliminated waiting lists. The Brownback plan, they said, doesn't address the problem of more than 4,800 developmentally disabled Kansans waiting for services.

Tim Wood, campaign manager for the End the Wait Campaign, said the KanCare plan was premised on the "hat trick" goals of achieving "lower costs, better access and improved outcomes."

But, he said, "there is a serious lack of empirical data that indicates that this type of shift in care delivery actually works for states and beneficiaries.""

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