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House GOP leaders penned a memo to members of the chamber saying they support including long-term supports for the developmentally disabled in KanCare and rebuking the providers of DD services who oppose the KanCare expansion for "making every effort to undermine the state's ability to improve services to our DD population and address the waiting list for DD services."
Rep. John Rubin, a Shawnee Republican, has been collecting signatures from fellow House members who support extending for another year the "carve-out" of long-term supports for the developmentally disabled from KanCare.
The building of a new Kansas Medicaid eligibility and enrollment system intended to be interoperable with the new federal health insurance marketplace remains on budget, according to the state's project overseer. But the system's planned connection to the federal insurance exchange could slip behind schedule, if federal officials don't pick up the pace on their end.
Enrollment for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s new online marketplaces is scheduled to start Oct. 1 in Kansas and across the nation. But it is clear that many, if not most, of the millions of people expected to benefit from the so-called “insurance exchanges,” still know little or nothing about how the marketplaces are supposed to work or the law behind them.
A Statehouse rally that coincided with the start of the Legislature's wrap-up session drew more than 1,000 people from across the state protesting Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to include long-term supports for the developmentally disabled in KanCare. But administration officials say their plan would better assure future funding for DD programs.
Advocates for the developmentally disabled called a Statehouse press conference to praise Gov. Sam Brownback's plan to reduce by 600 the number of disabled Kansans awaiting home and community-based Medicaid services. They urged the Legislature to consider developing a plan to fully eliminate the waiting lists.
The large majority of Kansas hospitals already have contracts or intend to contract with all three of the state’s KanCare managed care companies, officials say.
Gov. Sam Brownback released details of his plan to reduce the waiting lists for home and community-based Medicaid services. The $18.5 million in additional spending would move 400 physically disabled and 200 developmentally disabled Kansans into services, if approved by the Legislature.
People involved with Medicaid services for children say they are hopeful the state’s new KanCare program will someday lead to improved services and health outcomes. But for now, they report dealing with some of the same problems and frustrations others in the program have experienced.
Gov. Sam Brownback was at the University of Kansas Medical Center today as part of his statewide campus tour in support of steady funding for higher education instead of the cuts proposed by the Kansas Legislature. Higher ed officials have said the reductions would set higher ed funding back a decade, if adopted.
Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas Executive Director Mike Hammond says he's asked administration officials to narrow the focus of Gov. Sam Brownback's mental health initiative. Otherwise, he said, "it won't be successful."
State officials continue to work out the details of a transition program intended to pave the way for inclusion of long-term developmental disability supports into KanCare. Officials say they hope to have the program fully underway by July 1 with more than 25 provider gropus and 500 people involved. Surveys to gauge satisfaction with the current system are slated to go out this week. But many participants in the program say they remain opposed to the goals of the transition program and would prefer to see a pilot study of how the new system might work.
Gov. Sam Brownback said he would propose some additional spending to reduce the state's waiting lists for social services and to expand doctor and nurse training at the University of Kansas . How much he wants spent and other details will come with a formal budget amendment to be made later, administration officials said.
The presidents of the state universities took turns describing how the schools would cope, if the Legislature moves forward with plans to cut higher education spending.
A bill authorizing state welfare officials to order drug tests of people receiving or applying for unemployment or some welfare benefits was signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.
The first 90 days of KanCare is over, meaning the period for the state's Medicaid beneficiaries to change health plans this year has ended. Officials in the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback continue to say that the program's launch has been "smoother than expected." But Medicaid providers say many problems persist and some legislators are starting to take note of them.
Prominent politicians born in log cabins weren’t that common even in the old days. Before House Speaker Ray Merrick came along, Kansas hadn’t had one since Charles Curtis, the long-time U.S. senator who went on to become vice president under Herbert Hoover.
Members of a coalition that includes more than 30 Kansas organizations were at the Statehouse to present Gov. Sam Brownback a petition urging him to approve expansion of the state's Medicaid program. But the governor told news reporters he continues to be concerned about the potential long-term costs of adding people to the program. "We've got to be able to afford it. That's the bottom line," he said.
The Kansas Senate approved legislation exempting private health clubs from local property taxes. Senate Bill 72 was brought to the Legislature by commercial health club owners with complaints that the taxes were unfair for them because they compete with non-profit, tax-exempt organizations such as the YMCA.
A bill limiting the services that a Community Developmental Disability Organization could provide its clients was approved by the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. The backdrop for the bill is the ongoing battle between the CDDOs and the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback over the administration's plan to include long-term services for the developmentally disabled in KanCare effective Jan. 1, something most of the CDDOs have been fighting tooth and nail now for about two years.
About 300 people came to the Statehouse to push for keeping long-term supports for the developmentally disabled out of KanCare.
A Senate panel voted to advance favorably a bill that would shift regulatory power from KHIE, Inc. to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. KHIE is the entity created in 2010 to oversee the digital exchange of patient records. Meanwhile, a bill that would alter the role of the state's Community Developmental Disability Organizations appeared to meet resistance from some members of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.
A bill that would create a special KanCare oversight committee was heard by the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. Measure continues to enjoy broad support.
State officials should regulate the two organizations that manage the digital exchange of patient records in Kansas, members of a Senate committee were told by representatives of the major medical provider groups. But opponents of SB 210 said they feared it would result in government "data mining" and encroachments on individual liberty.
Representatives of most of the state's Community Developmental Disability Organizations testified against a legislative proposal that would modify their role in the state's care system for the developmentally disabled. No one testified in support of Senate Bill 194. KDADS Secretary Shawn Sullivan said his agency, which oversees disability services, was neutral on the bill.
Federal health officials say the rate of preventable and costly hospital readmissions is down for the first time in more than five years, which meant about 70,000 fewer hospital returns nationally in 2012 for the Medicare program alone. With a strong push from the fedearl health reform law, several efforts are underway in Kansas to reduce readmissions and experts here say there is evidence they are working.
Social workers and university officials who train them urged a Senate committee to approve a bill that would let social workers counsel people with substance abuse or addiction problems without the requirement of having a separate state license. SB 217 is opposed by the state's community mental health centers.
While acknowledging “bumps in the road,” state officials for several weeks have been saying that the launch of KanCare, the state’s new Medicaid program, has been going better than they expected. But people who work at some of the clinics that specialize in treating poor and uninsured Kansans describe it differently.
The state's major medical providers are urging legislators to expand Medicaid eligibility or at least not be hasty in rejecting the idea.
Parents and groups that represent persons with developmental disabilities testified in favor of a bill that would keep services for the developmentally disabled out of KanCare. But officials from the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback said if the bill were passed it would hinder their efforts to reduce Medicaid costs and better coordinate care for Medicaid enrollees.
The House Health and Human Services Committee voted to endorse a bill that would create a KanCare oversight committee.
A bill attempting to limit public health departments' efforts at gaining national accreditation apparently has been withdrawn by its sponsor. Sen. Michael O'Donnell said a hearing on SB 160 had satisfied his concerns about the accreditation process and that he no longer considers the legislation necessary. The bill was opposed by spokespersons for local health departments and the state health department.
The Senate budget committee voted to cut $10 million proposed earlier this year by Gov. Sam Brownback as a down payment on modernization of the University of Kansas School of Medicine's facilities in Kansas City.
The state Medicaid director has told the major doctor groups that the KanCare managed care companies will continue to treat physicians and other providers as in-network beyond KanCare's 90-day transition period, so long as the providers have contracts pending with them.
It appears a proposal to create a new legislative committee to oversee the implementation of KanCare will have no opposition. A move last year to create an oversight committee broke down after the House and Senate failed to agree on how it should be put together and run.
Two of the state's leading medical provider groups, the Kansas Medical Society and the Kansas Medical Group Management Association, have asked state officials to extend the transition period for KanCare another 90 days, saying more time is needed to work out a lengthy list of problems.
After months of advisory committee haggling over what it should look like, state officials say they are ready to launch the pilot program that will pave the way for including long-term services for the developmentally disabled in the new KanCare program. But advocates for the developmentally disabled say they disagree with the purpose of the demonstration project and will continue to push the Legislature for an extended or permanent KanCare "carve-out."
The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback released a summary of its estimated cost for Kansas to expand the Medicaid program. More details on how the projection was made are promised next week, but officials said the state could expect to spend an additional $513 million over 10 years, if it doesn't nothing or $1.1 billion over the same period if policymakers choose to open the program to people earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
Parents of disabled children urged House budget writers to do something to reduce the waiting lists for social services.
There have been plenty of problems and frustrations. No one denies it. But as Gov. Sam Brownback’s Medicaid makeover enters its fourth week, administration officials, some legislators and a variety of others involved with KanCare say they think the massive changes underway in the $3.2 billion program so far have gone smoother than many expected.
Meeting with advocates for the mentally ill, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Service Secretary Shawn Sullivan shed light on what he hopes will come out of the $10 million mental health initiative that Gov. Sam Brownback announced earlier this month.
A Wichita Democrat has introduced legislation that would expand eligibility for the Kansas Medicaid program to 133 percent of federal poverty guidelines. If the bill becomes law, the expansion would occur in January 2014, when the federal Affordable Care Act makes available additional federal funding to cover most of the early added costs.
The state health department's laboratory has stopped analyzing HIV tests from many counties, creating uncertainty how or if the testing can continue in many rural locations around Kansas.
The details of Gov. Sam Brownback's budget plan have been made public. The proposal would increase taxes and shift money from the highway department and other state programs in order to close an anticipated $503 million budget gap.
Without revealing much in the way of detail, Gov. Sam Brownback in the annual state-of-the-state speech outlined a two-year budget plan that among other things would continue his push to eliminate the state income tax. "Look out Texas, here comes Kansas," he said to applause from Republican legislators. The governor did not talk about KanCare, the possibility of expanding Medicaid eligibility or his recently announced mental health initiative. But he did say he would support construction of a new medical school building at University of Kansas Medical Center. He also outlined a new initiative aimed at boosting fourth-grade reading scores and called for merging the state highway department with the turnpike authority.
Gov. Sam Brownback outlined a new mental health initiative that he said would focus on the development of regional hubs to target services toward mentally ill persons who resist treatment until a crisis forces them into a mental hospital or prison.
State officials said they want to consolidate four KanCare workgroups into two and include more Medicaid enrollees on the remaining panels.
A week into major changes of the Kansas Medicaid program, questions persist about whether a new consumer advocate will have the freedom and the resources to do his job.
The people who run the state’s only medical school say its national accreditation falls in jeopardy or is lost, if money isn’t raised for a new, $75 million structure at its Kansas City campus.
James Bart started today as the KanCare ombudsman. The Lawrence man has experience advocating for the disabled.