KanCare expansion delayed until February

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - More than 8,600 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were set to move under the state's Medicaid program starting Jan. 1, however, the state announced a delay on Friday.  For Jennifer Kubler who has Down syndrome, living on her own and leading a life independently is something that she takes pride in.

"I got everything here, my apartment, my job and I love it and I do want to keep going," Kubler said.

But the 34-year old was one of the thousands who found themselves at risk of losing essential services because of the expansion of KanCare.  Providers like Kubler's mother, Marilyn, who helps 130 other people like her daughter say the system compromises their ability to provide quality care.

On Friday night, providers who help intellectual and developmental disabled people and have advocated against the KanCare expansion for almost two years came together to recognize the state's decision to delay. 

"We are providing care in their home 24 hours, they can't be without supervision, without assistance," said service provider Dynel Wood. She  has participated in a KanCare pilot program that hasn't gone well in her experience.

"We have realized that they're not ready so I think it's been a learning process," Wood said.

Providers who help the disabled are calling this a victory in a long fought battle.  One of the major issues they claim is the fact that providers aren't getting reimbursed for services on time.  Marilyn Kubler also cites red tape.

"They've added care coordinators who are going to be involved in working with our individuals, in addition to ourselves and so we're kind of duplicating services that is a waste of money," she said.

Back at home, her daughter hopes the expansion won't affect her daily living.  "I want to stay here for rest of my life," Jennifer Kubler said.

The state said in a statement that the delay is until Feb. 1, 2014.  They stated the extra time will allow them to consider comments that the public has made regarding the expansion.  They will work with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reach an agreement.

Angela de Rocha, Director of Communications, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services told us, "The reason for this temporary delay in implementation has nothing do to with readiness. We are ready to move forward. Implementation was postponed primarily because of CMS' desire that the state resolve the situation of individuals who are in the waiver program, but who have requested additional services, the so-called "underserved" list. CMS also wanted additional time to work with the state to evaluate the public comments it has received regarding implementation." 

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