A proposal to except developmental disability care from the governor’s Medicaid reform effort led to a tense exchange — and an admonition from the speaker of the House — for two of Wichita’s most prominent lawmakers.
The exchange came after Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, and Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, tangled over an attempt by Ward to amend a bill to take developmental disabilities out of Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to cap the costs of the state’s Medicaid services programs.
Brownback is in the process of implementing a plan to shift services to managed-care plans administered by for-profit insurance companies, to be called KanCare.
Ward strongly criticized Landwehr, the chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee, for delaying consideration of the exception. At one point, he urged the House to “keep your big-boy pants on, today’s the day.”
But as it turned out, it wasn’t the day.
Landwehr and her allies succeeded in keeping Ward’s amendment from coming to a floor vote by getting the underlying bill sent back to committee on a 69-54 vote.
“I would be happy to have two or three weeks of hearings on this (disabilities) issue because it’s major,” Landwehr said. “I understand these budgets, I actually know some of these kids as friends and family and neighbors that are receiving these services. I talk to the parents. To make a policy change like this on the floor is not doing a service to them.”
Ward said after the meeting that the bill was sent to the Appropriations Committee to kill it, but he plans to bring it up again when the Legislature reconvenes for its wrap-up session late next month.
Providers, parents and others in the developmental disabilities community have been lobbying for an exemption from KanCare, out of concern that the change would be too disruptive to mentally fragile individuals receiving home- and community-based services. Read More