HHS, SRS discuss waiting list

0 | SRS, Medicaid-CHIP

— A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services confirmed that agency officials met today for several hours with federal counterparts to discuss complaints about the state's long-running waiting list for services for the disabled.

“Let’s just say that the meeting was cordial and that we will continue to work with HHS,” Angela de Rocha wrote in an email to KHI News Service.

The meeting was not open to the public.

Advocates for the disabled have said they had been contacted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice. Both agencies, they said, were looking into whether the state’s lengthy waiting lists for home and community based services constituted a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Currently, more than 5,000 people with developmental or physical disabilities are on the SRS-administered waiting lists. Waits of two or three years are not unusual.

Last week, Shannon Jones, executive director of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas, said that 630 complaints – most of them having to do with the waiting lists - had been filed since 2009 with the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights.

She and other advocates have argued that the waiting lists violate a disabled person’s right to live in the “least restrictive environment,” a right upheld in a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Olmstead v. L.C.

De Rocha said the waiting lists were driven by funding shortfalls that are beyond SRS’ control

“SRS is acting in good faith,” she wrote. “I believe we are doing a good job with the resources that are being provided.”

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