March 26, 2012 Legislative Update

My 91-year old father has always prided himself on being a handyman able to repair anything.  Once I got my own house (and before I knew better) when I needed something fixed, I’d always call my Dad for help.
Dad would never admit it, but I discovered that sometimes he wasn’t exactly “skilled” in what I’d ask him to do. When his best didn’t quite meet my expectations and I’d make the mistake of telling him so, he’d say “it’s good enough for who it’s for.”  Most people would take that as an insult, but not me.  I knew that it wasn’t meant in a malicious way, it was meant to remind me that my needs were met.
One year, I had a problem; I needed an additional bedroom so I asked Dad to build me one. Easy as pie…all he had to do was put up one wall.  As most of you know, putting up a new wall takes great skill and patience, because you have to tape, mud and sand the seams on the drywall otherwise it has the terrain of a roller coaster.  You can see where this is going…Dad did his “it’s good enough for who it’s for” job, and I could never get a picture to lie flush on that wall.  It was then I realized that sometimes “OK” just isn’t good enough.
Similarly, Kansas has a problem.  We need to control the increasing cost of Medicaid.  In response, the Administration built KanCare.  The premise is good, but this solution needs definite sanding.  We need to sand the DD waiver right out of this plan!
This is one case when “it’s good enough for who it’s for” isn’t the right response.  Like my Dad, the Administration isn’t malicious in their intent but we are seeking what is best for our sons and daughters, friends, neighbors or loved ones with developmental disabilities. KanCare won’t just be a gentle reminder that our needs are met; it will destroy the effective and efficient system that already has been built.
Now let’s shake off that dust and move on to something more positive than home maintenance:

  • Senate Resolution 1831 (the document which petitions the Governor to delay the implementation of KanCare until July 2013) is viable but lonely. We are still trying to gather enough support from the House to create a twin resolution.  Lt. Governor Colyer has told legislators that if KanCare is postponed, it will cost the state millions of dollars.  The House tends to be much more conservative than the Senate; so many representatives support the Administration’s stance and have not signed on.  We continue to work on this.

  • Last week, our own Senator Terrie Huntington introduced SB 464 into the Ways and Means Committee.  This bill would prohibit the implementation of a managed care program for folks on the DD waiver until a thorough evaluation has been made of its potential impact for at least one year.  I spoke with the Senator on Saturday, and she is hopeful that it will get a hearing but it will not be until after the Legislature returns from their spring break (April 25th.)  Since the Administration hasn’t been willing to give an inch, this might be just the perfect tool to buy us a little time. If this bill passes, Administration wouldn’t be throwing in the towel (or trowel) it would just postpone the DD portion for a later date and provide time to sand out all the bumps.

  • The Kansas House passed HB 2764 which would mandate insurance coverage for behavioral therapy and other treatments for children up to age 19 who are clinically diagnosed with conditions along the autism spectrum. This solidly passed the House 92 – 30. Johnson County representatives voting against this bill were Donohoe, Meigs and Schwab.  Many thanks go to Representatives Arlen Siegfreid, John Rubin and Mike Kiegerl for pushing this bill.  It now moves on to the Senate.
Your To Do List:
Mark your calendars! The Johnson County Transition Council, Disability Rights Center of Kansas and the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training are partnering to present a KanCare forum on April 3rd at 6:00 pm.  This event will be held at the KU Edwards Campus at 12610 Quivira at the Reigner Hall Auditorium. A panel of experts will be at your beck and call to answer questions about what you might expect from KanCare.  It’s a “DO NOT MISS”opportunity to gather information!
Now back to find some grittier sandpaper…..
Warm Regards,
Lurena Mead

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