Kansas has updated its roster of disabled residents who have requested state-funded, in-home medical care and is now better equipped to provide that care more quickly and efficiently, officials in the governor's office said Monday.
The waiting list was cut by more than a third, from 3,423 to 2,197 people, after a company hired by the state spent the last few months trying to reach out to those on the lists, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Aging and Disability Services Secretary Shawn Sullivan said.
"We now have a better handle on the waiting lists and will be able to make better decisions about how to manage the waiting lists and utilize the funding provided by the Legislature for this program," Sullivan said.
There are about 5,700 individuals currently approved to receive in-home care, which is designed to allow those with disabilities to live in their own homes or community settings. But advocates for the disabled complained that people were waiting too long to receive help they were entitled to under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring states to provide services to the disabled.
Earlier this year, negotiations broke down between Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and HHS forwarded the waiting list complaints to the Justice Department.
Colyer said the state had not informed federal officials about the new waiting list information, which was completed late last week.
The state contracted with Answernet in Hays to contact individuals on the waiting lists in July. Only 11 percent of those on the waiting lists were able to be contacted. Further efforts by the Department of Aging and Disability Services found that 1,226 individuals could be removed from the waiting lists for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they could not be located, were already receiving services or no longer required services.
Colyer said that in the future the state would maintain the waiting lists and people would be contacted regularly by one of the three new managed care organizations that are taking over the state's Medicaid system. The three organizations would be required to make regular contact with those on the waiting lists to maintain accurate information and care needs.
The lieutenant governor, who is also a surgeon, said those on the waiting lists still would have access to crisis and emergency care services while they were waiting for full health care services.
Legislators approved funding earlier this year to provide services for an additional 100 people currently waiting for services. Sullivan said the agency would begin identifying those who would get the services and have them in place before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.