Friday, May 2, 2014

To: Members of the Kansas House of Representatives and the Kansas Senate

May 2, 2014

Dear Legislator: 

This session, as in the past, we have urged a more responsible and humane allocation of resources for community services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).  We are however disappointed once again in the outcomes that we will have to report to Kansans around the State who had been hoping for progress.  We will report little progress on waiting lists and no progress on reimbursement rates for community organizations. 

We are glad for the I/DD waiting list funding for 77 persons in the final budget considerations, and glad that Federal officials demanded the State address the underserved waiting list. But, please recognize that serving 77 persons from a waiting list which currently numbers in excess of 3,000 is not progress. 
The waiting list in the coming year will get longer, not shorter.   

Additionally, community service providers will once again fail to secure any relief for reimbursement rates that have not been increased in more than 6 years. Only once during this administration’s tenure has a reimbursement rate been proposed by the state agency which oversees our programs, and even that tiny 1% recommendation – 60% of which would have been paid by the Federal government – was removed from the Governor’s budget for 2014-2015 recommendations. Add to that the greatly increasing administrative costs for all organizations in their dealings with the three managed care insurance companies, and you can better understand the financial pressures they face. 

This excerpt from the Kansas Developmental Disability Reform Act spells out the law that has been routinely ignored:

39-1806. Establishment of system of funding, quality assurance and contracting. To carry out the provisions of this act, the secretary shall establish after consultation with representatives of community developmental disability organizations and affiliates thereof, and families and consumer advocates:
(a) A system of adequate and reasonable funding or reimbursement for the delivery of community services.. 

No one who votes for this budget can claim it is either adequate or reasonable … no can they claim they have met their obligations under the law.   Six years of rates unadjusted to keep up with increasing costs is inadequate and unreasonable. The needs of our most vulnerable citizens cannot be met when the care-givers for those citizens are treated with such ambivalence.  The needs of vulnerable Kansans with I/DD can only be met if each of you prioritizes their lives and their needs.  

Before you write your final newsletters, remember this: 
You will deceive yourselves if you believe those who claim that progress was made in this two-year budget for persons with developmental disabilities. Everyone affected knows the truth, and they will be asking you to work harder in the future to direct your executive and legislative leadership to reverse this pattern of neglect.   
We have not, and will not, lay this matter solely at your feet. Previous legislatures and governors had their chances to do better but didn’t. This cycle has to change, and it has to start with each of you. 
Two final thoughts:
  • We urge you to begin preparing for the coming interim as a time for planning, and that you insist upon the Administration’s assistance, to meaningfully reduce the waiting list, and to make good on the promise of restoring reasonable reimbursement rates for your community’s organizations that do this valuable work. Both goals must be addressed, in tandem.
  • We urge you also to look at the many millions in KanCare savings that have been touted, as a source for your enhancements to our budget. We all have a right to know whether those savings are real, and if so, then to utilize them as a funding source to re-invest in programs which are currently struggling. 

We appreciate the many responsibilities you are asked to carry, and the hard work you are asked to perform; and we believe you are owed an honest assessment of this session’s performance on behalf of the community I/DD network. 

We ask for your thoughtful consideration of these concerns.  


Tom Laing, (Topeka) Executive Director 

On behalf of the Executive Committee of InterHab:
Lori Feldkamp, President (Manhattan)
Alice Lackey, Vice President (Seneca)
Doug Wisby, Treasurer (McPherson)
Brenda Maxey, Secretary (Hutchison)
Jerry Michaud, Board Member-at-Large (Hays) 
Shelia Nelson-Stout, Board Member-at-Large (Salina)
Ron Pasmore, Board Member-at-Large (Wichita)
Colin McKenney, Past-President (Wichita)

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