The Kansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities officials said they want to make state legislators and the public aware that senior citizens are not faring well under the current KanCare system, association officials said.

Elizabeth Maxwell, executive director of East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging, based in Ottawa, said the KanCare application is not easy to fill out.

“If you check the wrong box, it gets tossed aside,” Maxwell said. “They are getting lost in the system. Most people who actually apply for Medicaid are eligible for Medicaid. They have to get past the clearinghouse door.”

Area Agencies on Aging is concerned that seniors, particularly those over the age of 85, are unable to gain access to KanCare services when needed, whether the senior chooses to remain at home or move to a nursing facility, according to an association news release. The data indicates seniors receiving home and community based services under KanCare since 2010 decreased by more 1,000, the release said. The expenditures for community based services is down by more than $14 million from 2010. The number of nursing facility residents on KanCare is also down.

“With that population growing, there should be more people who are 65-plus in the KanCare system and not less,” Maxwell said. “Something is wrong.”

The Kansas Statistical Abstract for 2016 indicates the population projection for people age 65 and over will increase by 82.4 percent from 2014 to 2044, the release said.

Maxwell said the clearinghouse has done a poor job of processing the applications. She said once the seniors turn in their application, they don’t keep checking on it.

“We have discovered once an application has reached the clearinghouse, even one error in it, it gets tossed into a box that goes to the side, while they process new applications,” Maxwell said. “Unless you have an advocate, who continues to call the clearinghouse to say ‘hey what happened to Mary’s application, what’s wrong with it, send it back.’ People are not getting onto Medicaid, so we think it is time to make a change.”

Maxwell said before 2013, seniors receiving Medicaid benefits had case managers, who helped navigate them through the system so they received the services they needed.

“When KanCare came along­ ­— we went to free-managed care companies — the component of case management went away,” Maxwell said. “The managed care company provides what they call care coordinators. Their care coordinators really operate at a high level. They are up there more for the medical side of it. To make sure people have been paid when they are in the hospital or at the doctor’s offices.”

Maxwell said the problem will not go away unless there is a change to help the seniors.

“What we have been talking to KDHE {Kansas Department of Health and Environment] about is going back to case management,” Maxwell said. “People need case managers. They need somebody at the local level who can help them fill out those applications.

“They are complicated and you can easily check the wrong box and think you are checking the right box. You need a real person, face-to-face, who can help you do that. That got lost back in 2013.”

Maxwell said Gov. Jeff Colyer is interested in improving KanCare.

“We felt it was a good time to draw everyone’s attention to the fact [the seniors] have not fared well,” Maxwell said. “What brought it to our attention was the statistics. People are not getting serviced. It is mainly getting into the system that has been the problem.”