Top legislative priorities for 2021

Advocates and supporters of the community of individuals with disability were ready when the Kansas Legislature kicked off the 2021 session last week. Many groups, such as Interhab, SACK, and KanCare Advocates Network, spent the last few months of 2020 preparing their legislative platforms in hopes of making significant progress in the state legislature this year and moving forward initiatives and solutions to benefit individuals and families affected by disability. We’ve compiled a brief guide to some of the issues our community hopes to address in this year’s legislative session.


At the forefront of every Kansan’s mind is the COVID-19 pandemic. For individuals and families affected by disability, the pandemic brought unique challenges that advocates are pushing to remedy. Some of these include:

  • Requiring reporting of outbreaks in all long-term care facilities, group homes, or any home health care facility;
  • Creating the right to appeal an involuntary discharge or transfer from an adult residential care facility. HB 2004 was introduced Jan. 11 to the Kansas House of Representatives. This article from the Kansas Reflector shows first-hand how detrimental an involuntary discharge can be for residents, families, and local hospitals during the pandemic;
  • Telehealth and broadband network expansion; and
  • COVID-19 funding transparency.

KanCare Expansion and Reform

At this time, 36 states have expanded their Medicaid programs. Kansas has not. Alliance For a Healthy Kansas breaks down why expanding KanCare matters now more than ever to the nearly 150,000 Kansans that currently fall into a health coverage gap.

First, by law, the cost of expanding the state’s program will be covered 90% by the federal government. Research shows that it will stimulate economic growth, bringing more than 13,000 new jobs to the state. In addition, it will protect access to care in rural areas. Over 7,400 Kansas military veterans and their spouses would gain access to affordable coverage, and expansion will help control health insurance costs.

KanCare reform is needed, along with expansion. Advocates are pushing for more oversight and accountability for contractors servicing the program. Years of complaints of backlogs and other problems spurred the state to replace its previous private contractor, Maximus, with a new servicer. However, without specific reform measures in place, the state cannot guarantee that it will not face the same problems with the new private contractor, Conduent.

Other reform measures proposed include collecting and analyzing data on specialized service gaps. This would allow the state and community partners to correctly identify these service gaps and work to fill the needs of the community.


Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles the disability community faces is financial. In 2020, after years of requests and data comparison, the Kansas Legislature appropriated $22 million (a 5% increase) in funding for the stretched thin intellectual and disability disorder (I/DD) providers to be made available July 1, 2020. That funding was cut by Gov. Laura Kelly in June 2020, a week before it was to be distributed, as a response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this legislative session, advocates, agencies, and the community will push to protect the current level of funding, and hope to receive reallocation of the 5% increase for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021.

In addition, there will be continued conversations regarding multi-year strategies to address the 4,000 adults and children on the waiting list for I/DD services in Kansas, as well as raising the protected income limit for Kansans receiving services.

Arcare is committed to advocating for our clients and their families at all levels of government. Check our blog for updates on these legislative priorities. Your generous donations allow us to continue our advocacy work.

How Arcare is filling the service gap for individuals with disabilities amid Covid-19

It is no secret that the Covid-19 outbreak presents worrisome and sometimes overwhelming obstacles for individuals in the community who have a disability. Some may experience anxiety about bill payments, or the cost of ensuring they have an appropriate amount of medical supplies and necessary prescription medications on hand. Many are facing program cancellations, reduced available in-home services, and the emotional impact of social distancing.

Now, more than ever, Arcare is dedicated to ensuring our clients are receiving the necessary care and support they need during this difficult time.

Financial care

Arcare’s Representative Payee program offers financial peace of mind to enrolled clients by continuing to ensure that financial obligations are met in a timely manner. Payee services are often utilized by clients who have difficulties paying bills and managing a household budget. Arcare’s Payee Program staff works with each individual client to create a monthly budget to prioritize the basic needs of food and shelter expenses. Arcare staff manages the payment of these expenses. On a weekly or monthly basis, Arcare puts money on a bank cash card for the beneficiary to use for spending and groceries. Staff also work closely with each individual and/or the individual’s case manager as needed.

For clients who are beneficiaries of an Arcare special needs trust, Arcare’s staff manages and processes requests for disbursement from the trust to enhance the individual’s quality of life. These disbursements are for items or services not typically covered by insurance, public benefits, or considered a shelter expense (food, rent, most utilities). A few examples include paying for internet services to keep clients connected to their friends and family during social distancing, paying for necessary medical equipment for clients to use in their homes if not covered by another source, pet care and supplies, and any medical, nursing, or dental care not covered by another source.

Life Care Plan client support

Many of Arcare’s Life Care Plan clients receive services in their homes or day center through community service providers. Due to the severity of Covid-19, some day services have been suspended in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. Individuals who usually receive services at a day center are now being served in their homes. Because this creates a staffing strain on community service agencies, Arcare’s Life Care Plan staff keep in constant contact with providers in order to ensure clients’ individual needs are being met. In addition, Arcare staff continue monitoring each client’s living, working, and healthcare environments. Information gathered by Arcare staff is communicated regularly with the community service providers in an effort to identify and address potential issues before they become crises.

In the unfortunate event of a Life Care Plan client requiring hospitalization, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and state Medicaid agency restrictions often inhibit the regular community service provider from continuing services while the individual is hospitalized. After discharge from the hospital, some clients need skilled rehabilitation services before successfully transitioning back into their homes and community-based service programs. Arcare bridges the service and communication gap between hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and community service providers by continually monitoring, reporting, advocating, and keeping complete records for our clients. With Arcare’s assistance and continual communication with providers, Life Care Plan clients can seamlessly transition back into their homes and the community with the necessary care and services they require.

For Life Care Plan clients who may not have day services, Arcare helps address how these individuals continue to meet the needs of daily living, including access to food, in-home support, and having sufficient prescription medications on-hand. Additionally, Arcare staff educate and remind our clients about proper handwashing techniques, provide them with up to date resources on how to stay safe at home, and connect clients with additional community resources if necessary. With the help of Arcare, our clients can continue receiving the help that they need while maintaining a safe and healthy home environment.

Isolation mitigation

Perhaps one of the most prevalent concerns our clients face at this time is social isolation. Arcare’s Life Care Plan staff contact clients regularly to appropriately prevent and address feelings of isolation and the anxiety that isolation may cause. At this time, meetings with clients take place over the phone or web-based video conferencing, if available. In addition to these efforts, Arcare can appropriately communicate with service providers our isolation concerns and advocate for providers to assist clients with contacting their friends and family by phone, video calls, and social media.

Individuals with disabilities in our community are experiencing unprecedented challenges during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Together, with families and the support of community service providers and agencies, Arcare will continue to provide essential services and assist clients in achieving his or her highest level of well-being.