By Chad Frey Newton Kansan
At a meeting Tuesday morning — the third in a series statewide — Kristen Fairbanks, director of the Friends and Family Steering Committee of KanCare, gave encouragement to those who were there to speak up.
"There are issues bubbling up that (the state was) unaware of, things we knew in the IDD community that had not yet reached the state level," Fairbanks said. "Issues came to light yesterday that I thought the state would know — but did not."
She did not say what those issues were, but instead encouraged about 100 people at the meeting Tuesday at Trinity Heights United Methodist Church — many with concerns about the switch to a privatized KanCare system — to get questions answered.
The state Ombudsman, members of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services and Managed Care Organizations were available to field questions.
There is a transition coming — the privatization of KanCare. Under the new system three providers — Sunflower, United Health and Amerigroup — will manage the care for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Representatives of those companies fielded the most questions Tuesday — from questions about possible disruptions of service during the transition, to if clients could keep their current case manager.
Officials do not anticipate any disruptions in care — in part because the three care organizations have found volunteers to test the claims system prior to roll out in January.
However, they did not gloss over those concerns.
"In any implementation there will be a rough start," said Kim Pearson of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. "The backup plan is if you are not getting anywhere with the (managed care organization), we want to hear about that at the state level."
She also said there was a "continuity care period" within the law that means no changes to services for six months, and claims must be honored during that six months.
And they assured those in attendance Tuesday that case managers would remain the same — at least until 2015.
"The reason 2015 is a date is it is the end of a demonstration period," Pearson said. "This will be reevaluated and our federal partners will tell us they want us to do next."
Other concerns voiced were the amount of information, some that consumers considered private, required to enroll in the new system. Others were concerned about training offered within the managed care organization.
Others were concerned that there is a new level of bureaucracy for those with disabilities to navigate.
"We have created a layer bureaucracy and paperwork for a population that can't deal with bureaucracy and paperwork," said Craig Simons, a Newton resident. "Who will guide clients through the bureaucracy and paperwork so they don't get lost in the shuffle?"
The answer was short: case managers.