Kathleen Sebelius, recruited by Sam Brownback, asks US Justice Department to investigate Brownback for civil rights violation


KS gov says Sebelius decision led to Medicaid flap
Thursday, April 26, 2012
By Gene Meyer | Kansas Reporter
FAIRWAY — The federal government is investigating whether Kansas is violating the civil rights of 3,500 physically disabled residents who have waited years for help.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback bristles at the suggestion.
Brownback, a Republican, has told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, the state is not discriminating against disabled people. Kansas, in fact, is trying to clean up a mess left by former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Brownback said in a letter to Leon Rodriguez, head of the HHS Office of Civil Rights.
Sebelius is now the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, which has asked Justice Department investigators to review the situation,

Rachel Seeger, 
chief spokeswoman for the HHS Office of Civil Rights, said the agency has referred its review to the Justice Department and could not comment on the matter.
Kansas City regional HHS director Jay Angoff was unavailable for comment, said Adele Sink, the regional office’s press spokeswoman.
The dispute centers on Kansas’ handling of what, formally, is called a home- and community-based services, or HCBS, waiver for the physically disabled. The waivers are part of federal Social Security and Medicare-Medicaid law.
The law requires federal and state governments to help pay for personal assistants, medical equipment, home remodeling or other help applicants might need to continue living in their homes.
About 6,200 Kansas residents get that help, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
But some 3,500 more have applied and have been waiting — in some cases two to three years or longer — to receive it. Kansas does not have enough in its Medicaid budget to pay its approximately 40 percent share of the additional federal and state costs, Brownback said in the letter.
In his letter to Rodriguez , Brownback says Kansas has slowed the pace at which those waiting lists have grown, chiefly by ending a 2008 move by then-Gov. Sebelius that allowed one new Kansas applicant to get the benefits only when two other recipients stopped receiving them.
Brownback has since changed that requirement — allowing one new Kansas resident into the program when
another patient leaves it.
That change has helped slow the growth of the waiting lists — from about 1,000 new applicants annually before Brownback took office to about 500 in the past 15 months, said Sherriene Jones-Sontag, his press secretary.
Brownback’s proposed KanCare program, part of which is designed to create job opportunities for people with disabilities, also will help reduce the waiting list, Jones-Sontag said.
Nationally, U.S. Justice Department lawyers acting on behalf of HHS have filed more than 25 lawsuits alleging discrimination against the disabled in 17 states, the Kansas Health Institute news service in Topeka reported.
Kansas Democrats and other Brownback critics say the state should use part of a projected $500 million revenue cushion to pay an estimated $33 million needed to fund all applications on the waiting list.

Kansas spends about $1.1 billion annually, or 18 percent of its general funds budget, to pay its share of Medicaid costs.

Re-printed in entirety with permission.

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