Kansas officials to sit down with feds over waiting list concerns

Advocates for disabled say feds poised to act on alleged Kansas Olmstead violations.

Advocates for the disabled say they believe the federal government is close to taking action against the state of Kansas for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Federal officials for months have been reviewing complaints filed by disabled Kansans and they are scheduled to meet later this week in Kansas City with state officials to discuss the issue and their findings, a step that often precedes federal action.

The disabled consider the ADA a civil rights landmark and a major highlight of the legislative legacy of former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a celebrated Kansas Republican who himself was disabled by grave wounds suffered as an infantryman in World War II.

For years, Kansas had the reputation of being a leader among states in providing services to the disabled, and sometimes was cited in court cases elsewhere in the country as an example of how things should be done.

But since the late 1990s, Kansas has had a growing waiting list for services. And many believe that has put the state at odds with the federal law at a time when the U.S. Justice Department has stepped up its enforcement of the disabilities act.

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. Department of Justice has joined or filed more than 25 lawsuits alleging discrimination against the disabled in 17 states.

In Georgia, the state has had to spend close to $100 million over the past three years on additional services for the disabled as the result of a settlement with the federal government.

“Kansas had better be paying attention,” said Deirdre O’Brien, an advocate of the developmentally disabled in Georgia. “Let me tell you, the Department of Justice isn’t fooling around on this. They’re pretty serious.”

Might Kansas be next?

Turning point

Seven months ago, U.S. District Attorney Barry Grissom said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was weeks away from citing Kansas for not doing enough to help disabled people live in community settings rather than in institutions.

The state, he said, either would have to expand its network of home- and community-based services or face the likelihood of his office filing a lawsuit in federal court.

“This is a big deal guys,” Grissom said, addressing a July 21, 2011, meeting of the Topeka Human Relations Commission. “It’s a really big deal.”

→ Continue reading at khi.org/ada.

Tagged: community, home, list, kansas, grissom, disability, disabled, waiting, care, ada

Comments

headdoctor 2 years, 9 months ago

I am sure the Kansas lawmakers will ignore the issue just like they have done thumbing their nose at the courts over school finance. Kansas will probably claim they are already spending more per person than the national average which is true. I just tend to think that a good chunk of that expense is used in administration and for the purposes of delaying and putting up road blocks even for those who could move on to the Federal program. It would be interesting to know just how much Kansas spends each year in fighting those who are legitimately disabled.

KS 2 years, 9 months ago

And just where do you expect to get the money? I think the well is dry.

headdoctor 2 years, 9 months ago

Yup. under the current system the well is pretty dry. This might not have been as much of a problem if they hadn't let it build up for the last 15 years. if you follow the money I am pretty sure you will find millions that went to contractors and political buddies. It is pretty sad that people who are legitimately disabled have to fork over thousands of their settlement dollars to a lawyer just to get the settlement. That could make up a lot if they would just stop wasting money avoiding the end result. What the State is doing is out right mean. It appears they want to make them suffer as much as possible. That is just for disability. When you add the services for disability on to it it is even worse.

I might add that I am not blaming Brownback for this because it started long before he was Governor but it no doubt will get worse under his watch. The State of Kansas has spent the last several years eroding our own tax base and now Brownback wants to erode it more by cutting income tax.

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