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Sept. 14, 2012
TOPEKA The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has sent an email to the state’s Centers for Independent Living, giving them 30 days to validate the number of physically disabled people on their waiting lists.
Those that don’t, according to the email, are likely to have their lists forwarded to the Kansas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Division for investigation.
Earlier this week, KDADS Secretary Shawn Sullivan announced that a company hired in July to confirm the needs of 3,462 people on the waiting list had only been able to reach 377 – about 11 percent of the total.
Sullivan said the findings showed that waiting list was not "credible for making policy decisions."
Almost one-third of the telephone numbers, he said, were inaccurate, not working or disconnected.
Sixty-three people had either moved out of state, said they no longer needed services, or didn’t know they needed services.
“If ineligible individuals were inappropriately placed on the waiting list, that would be a matter for the AG’s office,” Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for KDADS, wrote in an email Friday to KHI News Service. “We need to get an accurate picture of the waiting list in order to be able to make an informed decision on policy.”
The email was sent by Elizabeth Phelps, director of Medicaid and Management Operations at KDADS, on Aug. 27.
The waiting list is at the center of an ongoing federal investigation into whether lengthy waits for Medicaid-funded home- and community-based services violate Olmstead provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In Kansas, two- and three-year waits are now commonplace.
U.S. Department of Justice officials have said they are considering filing a lawsuit.
KDADS’ threatening to refer the CILs’ waiting lists to the Attorney General’s office baffled the CIL directors.
“There are a lot of new people (at KDADS) who are asking for information that we turned in a long time ago,” said Shari Coatney, who runs Southeast Kansas Independent Living in Parsons, one of the largest CILs in the state. “We’re trying to help them, but it’s true some people have been lost. They’ve either moved or they buy these (prepaid) phones that change numbers every two or three months. And a lot of people just can’t afford a phone.”
Coatney said the CILs would not have much trouble updating their lists.
“We’ll do what we can,” she said, “but the state doesn’t pay (CIL) case managers to keep track of people who aren’t yet eligible for Medicaid. We try to, but if you’re a case manager with a hundred people on your case list, you may not get around to checking up on someone who’s not on your list.”
Coatney said she doubted that having a more accurate waiting list would have much effect on the Department of Justice’s deliberations.
“The issue really isn’t how many people are on the waiting list, it’s how long they have to wait,” she said.
The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy making environment. Find more about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 783-2529.