Mentally disabled placed on 7-year waitlist for Medicaid services in Kansas

Thousands of Kansas residents with intellectual disabilities face a 7-year wait to get the Medicaid assistance they need to help them remain independent, according to NPR. This assistance includes job coaching, help paying for groceries, food preparation and transportation.

Recently, during public forums, families have become vocal about the long waitlist and other Medicaid problems, reports NPR. Among other complaints, families claim little has improved since 2013 when Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback put KanCare under the management of three private companies that promised to improve services, cut waste and save enough money to end the long waits for Medicaid assistance for people who are mentally disabled, according to the report.

Instead, the report notes, the waitlist has expanded by a few hundred names to about 3,500, and, except in emergency situations, the wait to get treatment averages seven years.

But state officials contend there have been positive changes, namely speeding up the start of services for KanCare applicants who have physical disabilities. But Brandt Haehn, commissioner for Home and Community Based Services, part of the agency that oversees KanCare, acknowledged cases of developmental disability are more expensive and complicated than physical disability cases.

And he told NPR it will take time to come up with the $1.5 billion — the state's share of a $2.6 billion program — needed to ensure mentally disabled people who qualify for Medicaid services can get them without having to wait, at least through 2025.

The Department of Justice is investigating the waiting lists, although it declined to comment to NPR.

This month, Kansas submits its application the federal government to reauthorize KanCare.



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