Opinion: KanCare bully beats up disabled

For-profit, managed-care smackdown puts Rocky on the ropes

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

Remember the final minutes of Rocky II?

It’s post Bicentennial America. And the country still is in search of patriotic themes and underdog dreams. Actors Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers deliver in the second of six feel-good boxing thrillers that altogether grossed more than $1 billion.

In the end, both Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed pummel each other in 15 rounds of bone-crushing, sweat-flying body blows until both fall to the mat in utter exhaustion.

Flash forward: It’s 2014 Topeka, Kansas, home of the KanCare political boxing championship. Two equally matched contenders have squared off in the first of what appears to be a long-running series of equally bloody bouts.

In one corner wearing patriotic satin trunks is underdog disability civil rights advocate Rocky Nichols with the Big Tent Coalition, an alliance of dozens of advocacy groups and home- and community-based service providers. Continue reading

It’s time to rise up

‘Expand Kansas Medicaid’ rally Feb. 17, Topeka

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

A broad coalition of sunflower state disability advocates and supporters have joined forces to “Expand Medicaid in Kansas,” a Feb. 17 rally at 2 p.m. at the state Capitol rotunda in Topeka. Organizers hope to attract more than 100 supporters.

The goal is simple: Present a unified force of Kansas disability rights advocates and supporters to send Gov. Sam Brownback and state legislators a clear message that it is critical to expand Medicaid during this legislative session.

The group will meet just before 2 p.m. in the rotunda of the state Capitol. State legislators will give health care policy updates. KanCare recipients negatively affected by the state’s experimental, for-profit managed care initiative — including Finn Bullers of Kansas City who fought the state to have his caregiver hours restored — will address the rally. Continue reading

Devil is in the details

Screw up small stuff, KanCare,
and how can we trust you when it really matters?

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

Eighteen-year-old Neil Carney of Wichita, Kan., is profoundly autistic and severely mentally retarded. He has tried to eat charcoal briquettes and light bulbs. He can be aggressive.

Neil lives in a beige single-family home with a professional caregiver. His parents, Pat and Aldona Carney — and thousands of others like them in Kansas — have been given a one-month reprieve by federal Medicaid officials to delay a fate they fear is inevitable.

Come Feb. 1, Kansas’ Medicaid managed-care system – known as KanCare — is expected to take charge of all home- and community-based services for about 8,500 developmentally disabled people, most of them adults. Continue reading

Height of arrogance

KanCare officials need well crafted charm offensive

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

When a holiday guest enters your home, social etiquette Midwestern style demands your best manners — maybe a welcoming cup of pretty-strong coffee and most certainly a Scandinavian sweet.

So it came as a simple case of bad manners — not to mention poor public image creation — when for-profit, managed-care officials in Kansas snarled at “East Coast” interlopers who in December had the audacity to “parachute” into the Topeka prairie to lecture them on how to improve the care of 380,000 Kansans. Continue reading

Justice Department may probe profit over quality care

KanCare draws ‘deep concern’ from National Council on Disability

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

TOPEKA, Kan. — Big news on the Kansas managed care front could reshape the health care landscape and growing national debate on the merits of privatized, for-profit care.

In a Dec. 13 letter from the National Council on Disability, several significant and non-binding recommendations to improve the state’s for-profit Medicaid plan — also known as KanCare — were made to the President and Congress.

“It’s clear to NCD that many unresolved issues remain for people with disabilities” in Kansas, the report said. “The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should conduct an oversight review of the current administration of KanCare.” Continue reading

Advocacy is tedious, patient and lonely

But every once in a while you win: Ten tips to success

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

Instant gratification is a trait not often found in the souls of the good people who advocate for making the lives of people with disabilities better.

Fellow advocates, you know who you are.

All have embraced the hare-and-tortoise pace of change early in their disability civil-rights’ careers. And know that steady wins the race.

Advocacy is behind-the-scenes, unheralded, long-hours work that generally doesn’t get you on the evening news. It’s early morning trips to the state capitol or cramped flights to D.C. to meet with congressional leaders whose only goal is to get a picture with a person in a wheelchair. Continue reading

Kansas governor plays God with disabled

‘That’s just the way the world works,’ state says

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

What’s happening in Kansas could be Anywhere, USA.

Healthcare costs are crazy high. The United State quality of care ranks below some developing countries, yet opinion polls reflect that we perceive our quality of care to be No. 1.

Where’s the disconnect?

Look no further than the Sunflower State to reflect our nation’s healthcare hypocrisy, misdirected priorities and outright Orwellian logic that defies moderate politics once rooted in heartland America. Continue reading

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