A newly created agency charged with assessing the need for in-home services of the state's frail elderly and disabled and helping them navigate changes in the state’s Medicaid system has started taking telephone calls from the public.
Janis DeBoer, executive director with the Kansas Area Agencies on Aging Association, said the first call came in last Thursday.
The association’s members — 11 area agencies on aging throughout the state — last month signed a contract with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), agreeing to become an Aging and Disability Resource Center, or ADRC.
DeBoer said three information and referral agents are taking calls at the ADRC’s call center, which is housed at the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging in Wichita.
She said association officials hoped to have 10 agents taking calls at the center by Jan. 1, which is when KanCare is scheduled to launch, pending federal approval.
KanCare is Gov. Sam Brownback's plan for moving virtually all the state's Medicaid beneficiaries into managed care plans operated by private insurance companies.
DeBoer said as part of KanCare preparations, the Health Care Finance division at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would ‘auto assign’ each Medicaid enrollee to one of the three companies' coverage plans sometime this month.
Enrollees then would have the option of remaining with the plan they’ve been assigned or switching to one of the other two companies' plans. Those interested in exploring their options would be referred to the ADRC call center for assistance.
The ADRC’s toll-free call center may be reached at 1-855-200-ADRC (2372).
DeBoer said the ADRC agents would help callers understand the different plans but would stop short of telling them which one to choose.
“If a caller needs in-person assistance or wants to meet with someone face to face, the call will be transferred to the AAA in their area,” she said.
An agent with a local AAA would set up an in-person interview, if needed.
The AAAs are based in Arkansas City, Dodge City, Hays, Hiawatha, Manhattan, Kansas City, Olathe, Ottawa, Chanute, Topeka, and Wichita.
The state has about 380,000 Medicaid enrollees. The ADRC would counsel only the 11,000 enrollees who are either frail elders, physically disabled, or brain injured in need of home- or community-based services.
The ADRC contract is being administered by the AAA in Dodge City.
Also on Jan. 1, DeBoer said, the ADRC would assume responsibility for assessing whether present and potential enrollees need in-home services to help avoid expensive moves to nursing homes.
The AAAs, she said, also would continue to advocate for the elderly, regardless of their Medicaid eligibility, and oversee the state’s meal programs for seniors.
Eventually, the AAAs will be called ADRC walk-in centers, DeBoer said, noting that KDADS has assumed responsibility for marketing the centers' services.
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