Parents urge legislators to do more to reduce waiting lists for social services

0 | Agencies, Legislature, Medicaid-CHIP

— Several parents of disabled children today urged House budget writers to disregard Gov. Sam Brownback's spending proposal for the coming two fiscal years and instead do something to reduce the waiting lists for social services.

"We have exhausted every resource we have. I am here today to ask for help," said Cynthia Prusick of Olathe, mother of a nine-year-old autistic son.

Prusick and her husband Terry were among the various parents who attended Wednesday's meeting of the House Social Services Budget Committee to ask lawmakers to reconsider the governor's proposed budget, which would hold steady state spending on various Medicaid programs that provide home and community based services for the disabled and would keep intact long waiting lists of people seeking them.

The Prusicks said it was their first time to testify to a legislative committee. They came to Topeka "because we got the governor's budget," Cynthia Prusick said, "and we saw there was no money for the waiting list. That's unacceptable."

She said the family had depleted its financial resources, including retirement savings and money from relatives, to take care of their son who was diagnosed with autism as a two-year-old.

Other parents offered similar descriptions of hardship. Each was given about three minutes to make a case to the committee, which earlier had heard a rundown from a legislative researcher of the governor's spending plan for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, which oversees the assistance programs and manages the waiting lists.

One woman introduced her developmentally disabled son who she said had been on the waiting list for 12 years before he started receiving services nine months ago.

She urged the legislators to consider putting together a "comprehensive, 20-year plan" to eliminate the waiting list for services for persons with developmental disabilities, saying that was how long it likely would take given the length of the current list and the annual addition to it of new people seeking help.

KDADS Secretary Shawn Sullivan gave committee members the following details about the waiting lists:

  • Home and community based Medicaid services are being provided to 7,825 persons with developmental disabilities; 3,176 are waiting for services.
  • Services are being provided to 5,685 people with physical disabilities; 2,385 await services.
  • Services are being provided to 5,012 frail, elderly persons. There is no waiting list and none anticipated, he said.
  • Services are being provided for 45 autistic children; 283 are waiting for services.

Committee members took no action today on the waiting lists and are scheduled to hear more testimony about the proposed KDADS' budget on Thursday.

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