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Commission opposes Medicaid order

Staff writer

Marion County Commissioners approved a resolution Monday opposing Gov. Sam Brownback’s executive order reorganizing Medicaid programs in the state.

“I’m scared of having for-profit companies come in who have no experience with long-term care,” Harvey-Marion County Community Developmental Disability Organization Director Elizabeth Schmidt said. “The more I learn about it, the more scared I get.”

Brownback signed the order Feb. 6, but the Kansas legislature still has time to vote down the order before it takes effect July 1, Harvey-Marion County Community Development al Disabilities Organization board member Lou Didier said.

The order would remove the responsibility to fund long-term care for disabled adults from the state and would contract the responsibility to three insurance companies. It would also affect funding for medication and would have other medical applications.

Currently, long-term care services are contracted through independent companies. CDDOs act as the go-between for the funding from the state to the specific companies for group homes, day services, and other services. Didier said that no other state has privatized long-term care funding.

So far, Brownback has said that there will be no changes to services offered, but the state will save money on the cost of Medicaid programs. Schmidt does not see how this is possible. Looking closer at the proposal, Didier said supervision services may be something that would be excluded from coverage.

Didier has a 21-year-old son with autism who requires 24-hour a day watch. Right now, half of that service is paid for by the state.

“People with autism share something in common with people with Alzheimer’s — they wander off,” Didier said.

Road closing

After an hour of discussion with property owners Gerald Unruh, Galen Martens, Gene Unruh, and Hal Krehbiel, the commission voted to not close 330th Road between Bison and Chisholm. Commissioners assigned Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford to look into inexpensive alternatives to repair the large bridge on the stretch of dirt road.

Gerald and Gene Unruh reversed positions held from a previous meeting in December. They wanted the road to be open and the bridge to be fixed so large trucks could use the bridge to transport crops off their property.

Martens still wanted the road closed because illegal hunters on the road shot bullets into his house, but he was amenable to the compromise if Gerald Unruh would police his land to keep hunters away.

Krehbiel offered Crawford the option of using large pieces of pipe for the bridge. Crawford said he would look into buying the pipe for an agreed discounted price.

In other business:

  • A $200-a-month raise was approved for Planning and Zoning and Environmental Health Director Tonya Richards. The raise was approved on the grounds of Richards’ recent education supplements and increased job responsibilities.
  • A raise from $8 to $10.30 an hour was approved for park employee Gerald Bender because of an increase to a full-time workload. Bender also works for the Road and Bridge Department during the winter.
  • Richards discussed changes to the county’s solid waste resolution, specifically the appeals process. Currently, owners of vacant properties or seasonal residents can appeal the solid waste fee to get it removed from their taxes.

Last modified March 7, 2012

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