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Originally published April 25, 2012 at 5:43 p.m., updated April 25, 2012 at 6:09 p.m.
TOPEKA Gov. Sam Brownback announced today he supports calls to postpone the inclusion of long-term services for the developmentally disabled in KanCare, his administration’s plan for letting managed care companies run the state’s $2.8 billion Medicaid program.
“We believe that allowing another year of discussion and input from the developmental disability community will make them comfortable with the program and allow us to craft solutions to the concerns they’re expressing,” Brownback said in a prepared statement.
The delay, according to the governor, would not extend to medical and mental health Medicaid services for the developmentally disabled. But it would affect long-term services such as residential and day programs.
KanCare is scheduled to start Jan. 1, 2013, pending federal approvals.
Last week, House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican, told fellow legislators he was drafting a budget proviso to “carve out” services for the developmentally disabled until 2014. Siegfreid told them his proposed proviso had been endorsed by the Governor's Office. The announcement today made that official.
Several legislators, including a majority in the Senate, already had signaled their desire to see the planned Jan. 1 launch of KanCare delayed until July 1, 2013.
Also, more than 30 county commissions have passed resolutions asking the governor to drop the long-term developmental disability services from the KanCare plan.
“This is a good first step,” said Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat who introduced a bill that would have removed developmental disability services from KanCare. “Any delay that allows us to protect vulnerable Kansans is a good thing, but this isn’t the end. There are a lot of us (legislators) who want them (developmentally disabled) carved out permanently.”
Earlier in the day, before the Governor's Office announcement, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer spoke at a meeting of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition. Colyer has been the governor's point man in developing the KanCare plan.
He said dropping long-term services for the developmentally disabled from the KanCare plan as opposed to postponing their inclusion would be disruptive and costly.
“If you did that, your budget hit in year one would be roughly $30 million. The budget hit in year two would be about $70 million. It would have a cascading effect on your budget profile.”
Colyer also said administration officials believed that fully excluding services for the developmentally disabled “would cause significant disruption to the overall bidding process.”
If the administration were to “carve out” services for the developmentally disabled, it likely would need to reopen the contracting process, which almost certainly would delay the program's Jan. 1, 2013, startup.
The administration currently is reviewing bids submitted by five managed care companies. Officials have said they hope to award contracts to three of them by summer.
Colyer said he was aware that several legislators and advocacy groups wanted to delay KanCare’s start by six months to a year.
“We are listening to folks,” he said. “We’ve been listening all along. The issue, I think, will play out over the next few days.”
Tom Laing is executive director of Interhab, the association that represents most of the state's Community Developmental Disability Organizations. The group has been a leading critic of including long-term developmental disability services in KanCare.
"We are weighing today’s news from the governor," Laing said. "We have had no meetings with the administration this week and have only seen the press statement. So we are uncertain what it means. We have advocated that DD community services be excluded from KanCare, not delayed."
Laing said he wanted to see the details in the legislative proviso, which have not yet been made public.
"We have been told for months that a delay was not possible," he said, "therefore we need to know how they intend to implement this shift in thinking and how it will be reflected in the language of the appropriations bill."
But he also said the governor's announcement was a good move.
"The governor has taken a good step for the administration and for DD services in Kansas with this statement. We always believed that when he looked at the timetables and the facts that he might want to reshape the proposal which had been put on the table."
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