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DD advocates launch KanCare carve-out ad campaign

TV, radio and web spots urging governor to keep DD supports out of new Medicaid program

By KHI NEWS SERVICE | April 26, 2013

Advocates for the developmentally disabled said they would launch a $50,000 media campaign this weekend with radio and TV ads urging Gov. Sam Brownback to keep long-term supports for the developmentally disabled out of KanCare.

“We have worked with families and community organizations all across the State on this 'Dear Governor' campaign to make sure that Gov. Brownback hears from community voices who support the carve-out of I/DD community services from KanCare," said Tom Laing, executive director of Interhab, an association that represents most of the state's Community Development Disability Organizations.

Laing said the campaign to persuade the governor and legislators also would include, "letter writing, social networking, videos, emails and phone calls."

Laing said the ad campaign, which includes a website, would run for about two weeks. Interhab also plans to stage a May 8 rally at the Statehouse, which is the day legislators are scheduled to return to Topeka to wrap up their work on the state budget and conclude this year's session.

KanCare is a Brownback initiative that was launched Jan. 1 this year. It moved virtually all the state's 380,000 Medicaid beneficiaries into health plans run by three for-profit insurance companies: Amerigroup, UnitedHealthcare and Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene.

Long-term residential and other support services for the developmentally disabled were initially excluded from the program after protests from DD advocates but are scheduled to be added on Jan. 1, 2014.

Administration officials say their goal in expanding KanCare is to improve health outcomes for the developmentally disabled while cutting the costs of the Medicaid program. Medical service for the developmentally disabled already are included in KanCare. But opponents of the expansion plan say the insurance companies lack experience providing non-medical services and that the changes would undermine a successful and long-established system.

“What the governor is proposing is an experiment," Laing said, "and tens of thousands of Kansans feel strongly that we should not experiment with the services that our most vulnerable citizens depend on every day to continue to live in the community.”

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