The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services on Wednesday requested $90 million from the state general fund to shorten wait times for Medicaid recipients who need services for physical or intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Overall, the agency requested a boost of $150 million in state general fund money over the next two budget years with most of that falling in the fiscal year running from July 2018 through June 2019. It also requested another $110 million in non-general funds to reduce wait lists.
“I think it’s absolutely awesome,” said Sean Gatewood, co-administrator of the KanCare Advocates Network. “Knock me over with a feather, we’re excited about it.”
The funding request would take aim at long wait times endured by Medicaid recipients who need home and community-based support services for their physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities. Gatewood said they have to wait about eight years after getting on the list, but they get medical services in the meantime. They don’t get home care attendants and other assistance, he said.
Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for KDADS, said the funding was intended to increase capacity to provide services for beneficiaries.
KDADS’s total funding from the state general fund amounts to $744.4 million and $898.8 million in the next two fiscal years, according to their budget proposal. The request would boost that funding in the second year by 10 percent.
Gatewood and Mike Oxford, executive director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, said the proposal was good news, but it will take time to bring providers into the network to handle those services.
“That’s a lot of people that providers will have to ramp up to,” Oxford said.
The proposal was submitted as part of a budget request from KDADS to Brownback’s office. Brownback spokeswoman Rachel Whitten said the budget development process was in its early steps. It’s unveiled in January. Brownback will likely step down before that time to join President Donald Trump’s administration as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is also running for governor, will step up to fill Brownback’s place.
The state hospitals overseen by KDADS are also seeking more funds to fill budget shortfalls and make improvements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid cited Larned State Hospital this summer and threatened its federal funding. KDADS Secretary Tim Keck said the department is working to update facilities to improve safety.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.