Advocates seek federal action on Kansas Medicaid backlog

Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Wichita, questions Bill Rein, the commissioner of behavioral health services for the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services about how many state funded positions at the Osawatomie State Hospital are currently vacant, during a hearing on why the hospital lost its Medicare certification, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. (Chris Neal/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Advocates for people with disabilities have urged the federal government to require Kansas to quickly clear its backlog of Medicaid applications and to resolve problems with its application process as a condition for approving any renewal of its privatized program.

The Disability Rights Center asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a letter to force Kansas to document a “realistic plan” to eliminate the backlog and to notify all applicants of their appeal rights.

Kansas Department for Health and Environment disclosed last month that the backlog had been undercounted by thousands of applications. The number of unprocessed applications stood at about 3,500 people until the state acknowledged the actual figure was more than 15,000.

KDHE has battling the backlog since switching to a new computerized system to process applications.

“Ongoing delays risk depriving applicants of necessary medical care through no fault of their own,” according to the letter written by Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center.

Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services told The Topeka Capital Journal that the state is not required to inform people whose application goes beyond 45 days of their right to a hearing.

“Our current Medicaid application includes the information about the right to a fair hearing and our notice of action model has the fair hearing right advisory as a required component,” she said. “So the state believes it complies with the above regulatory standards.”

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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