Advocates, recipients react to Kansas officials’ pushback against federal KanCare report

By McKenna Harford, Special to The Capital-Journal, January 23, 2017

Members of the public fill the room as KDHE Secretary Mosier testifies before the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee

Susan Mosier, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, spoke to the Senate
Public Health and Welfare Committee Monday morning, responding to a report from the Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services that Kansas’ Medicaid program is “substantively
out of compliance” with U.S. law. (Photo by Thad Allton/The Capital-Journal)

KanCare recipients expressed distrust and ambivalence on Monday to the response from Kansas officials about a federal report highly critical of the state’s Medicaid program.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier spoke to lawmakers, and Medicaid recipients and their advocates were watching.

Susan Jarsulic’s daughter, Jayne, is covered under the long-term services provided by KanCare. A federal report from last week disclosed KanCare is “substantively out of compliance” with U.S. law and regulations and cites issues with coordination, communication and oversight, which could put beneficiaries like Jayne at risk.

Jayne is 38 years old and has severe disabilities that prevent her from being able to do anything for herself. Jarsulic said since her daughter’s health care services have been transferred to KanCare, she has experienced many of the issues detailed in the report, including a lack of communication between care coordinators and the families, and experiencing hostile treatment from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

“I think (Mosier) is using that new buzzword, ‘alternative facts,’ ” Jarsulic said. “We’re not lying. They are lying, as far as I am concerned.”

As president of the board of Dreams Work Inc., a nonprofit in Lenexa that serves disabled adults, Jarsulic has spoken with other families who feel they bear the brunt of the cost of care. Jarsulic has also experienced changes to her services, including losing insurance reimbursement for the cost of overnight care, which is about $77 per night.

“I say it’s a financial decision, it’s not a care decision. My daughter has had this service for 20 years, and suddenly she no longer qualifies because she lives with mom and dad,” Jarsulic said.

Mike Oxford, the executive director for policy at the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, said he remains concerned by the federal report, because Mosier did not directly address long-term services and it is unclear how the report affects the beneficiaries’ health care. He called for the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee chairwoman, Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, to take additional testimony.

“I think the next step is to see what Sen. Schmidt does as a follow-up with her committee, to see if there’s going to be any citizen or advocate or provider input into the report, because we’ve heard what the state has to say about it,” Oxford said.

Mosier said the report was incomplete and criticized the quality of the analysis in an appearance on Monday before lawmakers.

“I will admit that on the surface this letter looks alarming and concerning,” Mosier said. “As we went through this report, we found that there were a limited number of substantive issues and, with rare exception, all of these issues had been previously identified by the state and have been addressed or are in the process of being addressed.”

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