Members of the National Council on Disability on Tuesday will be in Topeka to hear testimony on the effectiveness of KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.
After a similar hearing in December 2013 the council sent a letter to state and federal officials, urging Kansas policymakers to delay plans to include long-term services for developmentally disabled (DD) adults in KanCare.
In February 2014, state officials put the DD supports under the KanCare umbrella. At the time, KanCare had been administered for about a year by three for-profit managed care organizations.
Generally, DD supports are non-medical services that allow people with developmental disabilities to live in community settings rather than institutions.
The hearing — from 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 346-S at the Statehouse — is expected to give people who receive and provide DD support services an opportunity to comment on KanCare. Individual testimony will be limited to four minutes.
The 15-member council is a federally funded independent agency that advises state and federal officials on disability issues.
“They’re coming back to hear how managed care is happening in Kansas,” said Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas. “It’s part of their due diligence.”
Since KanCare’s inception in January 2013, some advocates for people with disabilities have panned the privatized approach. State officials and representatives of the managed care companies have argued that it has lowered costs and increased efficiency.
Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Kari Bruffett is scheduled to testify and, according to KDADS spokesperson Angela de Rocha, likely will cite data showing that providers are being paid on time and that more people with disabilities are receiving more services.
Tom Laing, executive director at Interhab, a trade organization that represents most of the state’s community-based programs for people with developmental disabilities, plans to share his concerns about KanCare.
“It’s our position that thanks to a lot of hard work on everybody’s part — including the MCOs — the new system has not collapsed,” Laing said. “But we’ve not seen what we would consider to be significant improvements, not at all.”
Efforts to measure KanCare’s successes, he said, have been hamstrung by a lack of reliable data.
“It’s awfully hard to verify the promises that were made regarding health care because the MCOs are now the keepers of all that information and state’s capacity for verifying that information is limited,” Laing said.
The meeting, which is open to the public, can be heard by dialing (877) 446-3914 and entering code 647593.