There is still time for Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature to permanently carve out the state’s population of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) from KanCare, a managed care effort designed to transfer the Kansas Medicaid program to three for-profit insurance companies.

During the waning days of the 2012 session, the Legislature wisely decided to delay the implementation of the I/DD long-term care into the KanCare program until Jan. 1, 2014.

Soon thereafter, the Brownback administration announced a pilot program that was to pave the way for including long-term services for the I/DD population in the new KanCare program. Now, four months into the current year, the pilot program is yet to begin and the only announcements forthcoming these days are of additional delays.

It concerns community service providers who serve the I/DD population across Kansas that if a pilot program serving a few hundred people cannot get started, how are thousands going to be successfully served this coming January without putting people with complex needs in jeopardy?

The Alliance for Kansans with Developmental Disabilities is made up of organizations in 15 communities that provide caring, quality services for several hundred members of the state’s I/DD population. The Alliance feels strongly that our fellow Kansans with intellectual/developmental disabilities are among the state’s most fragile and vulnerable citizens. They have been accurately described as the “most special” people in our society. So, let’s step up and do the right thing by them and for them.  

Kansans with intellectual/developmental disabilities are not typical Medicaid recipients suffering from an appendicitis or gall bladder attack. They are the individuals often requiring 24/7 lifetime care.

We believe our leaders in this administration and legislature would be wise to pause, take a deep breath, listen to this population, their family members, and service providers and slow down the train on this critical issue affecting Kansans with intellectual /developmental disabilities. This is what democracy is all about.

The I/DD population already receives health and behavioral services through KanCare. However, long-term care services for Kansans with intellectual/developmental disabilities should be permanently carved out of KanCare. The KanCare insurance companies have experience with medical issues — not with long-term care services for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The difference is significant for everyone involved.

Readers are urged to contact their local legislators, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Brownback himself to urge them to change course and permanently carve I/DD out of KanCare.

We don’t dare get this important issue wrong. Please speak up, make your voice heard and make a difference. Our fellow Kansans with I/DD will live daily with the consequences of this vote and decision when legislators return soon to the Kansas Statehouse.

— Richard Shank, Alliance for Kansans with Developmental Disabilities, governmental affairs, Hutchinson