Five community service providers representing nearly 800 people with developmental disabilities from across the state met recently in Great Bend and discussed the upcoming Legislative session. The Alliance for Kansans with Developmental Disabilities includes: Creative Community Living (Winfield, Ark City and El Dorado); Disability Supports of the Great Plains (Hutchinson and McPherson); Easter Seals Capper Foundation (Topeka); Quest Services (Hiawatha); and Rosewood Services, serving the central Kansas area.
The November meeting took place in the loft of the Rosewood Wine Cellar.
“We’ve gained a lot more recognition and respect at the state level by coming to Legislators as an organized group, rather than as different community service providers from around the state,” said the Alliance group’s president Jon Zehnder. “Our aim has always been to provide solutions to problems facing our state as it relates to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Of course, the biggest topic the past couple years has been KanCare and implementation of the KanCare pilot program.”
KanCare is the program developed by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to contract with private insurance companies that are paid flat rates per client. The program has already been implemented for medical services. During the last Legislative session, however, the Legislature voted to delay KanCare’s take-over of non-medical services for the developmentally disabled until January. A pilot program is currently in place where selected agencies are using KanCare for non-medical services through the end of the year. The goal of the pilot program has been to test non-medical services implementation on several agencies before it is fully mandated statewide for all community service providers.
In addition to meeting about the upcoming Legislative session, the group recognized its retiring lobbyist, Richard Shank, who worked with the group for the past four years. He was presented with a small wooden crate full of Rosewood Wine Cellar products, most of them made by Rosewood Services client-employees at the company’s Studio and Furniture Gallery.
Shank, a longtime Hutchinson resident, has been a lobbyist for the past 20 years for several organizations. He said representing the Alliance group was especially gratifying to him.
“I’m finally hanging up my lobbying cleats in all areas,” said Shank. “I hope to remain lifelong friends with everyone I’ve gotten to know with the Alliance group these past four years. We really bonded and we are like a family now. They represent the noblest cause that I have ever been associated with, that of advocating for the developmentally disabled population around our state.”