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Many Disabled Kansans Struggle With KanCare

A new study by the University of Kansas finds many Kansans with disabilities are having difficulty getting services through KanCare, the privatized Medicaid managed care program created by the Brownback Administration. As Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson reports, the study questions whether the financial savings from privatization are worth the human costs.

Lead researcher Jean Hall says surveyors questioned more than 100 Kansans with varying types of disabilities last year. Almost half reported difficulty getting services they had received before the transition to KanCare. Hall says an AP story last week combined the news about her study with news about a lawsuit by a former KanCare executive and questions about how the switch to KanCare might affect the race for governor.

“And what concerns me is that the headline that came out of this was that it was about the administration, and this has never been about the administration," Hall says. "This has been about making sure that people with disabilities are getting the services that they need.”

Angela DeRocha, the spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, claims that the timing of the study’s release suggests it was politically motivated. DeRocha was unavailable for an interview, but in an email she also said the survey was done at a time when plans of care could not be changed, so any problems would pre-date KanCare. Hall denies any political motive, and says the study was about general KanCare services, not plans of care…

"This is not against managed care, either. I mean, people with disabilities have pretty complex needs sometimes, and it would be great if there were a system to manage their care and coordinate their care a little bit better—but it doesn’t seem like that’s what their experience has been so far.”

In fact, says Hall, the majority of those surveyed were satisfied with KanCare, despite having problems getting access to some services.