The cost of cuts: Special reports from the Kansas Health Institute, Final Episode

Throughout last week, we ran excerpts from a series of stories by Kansas Health Institute journalist Dave Ranney. The stories illustrate how Kansas lawmakers, faced with the need to cut the state budget, have a problem understanding some simple math: In the long run, it’s a lot less expensive to fund services that help disabled children and adults live independently, at home, than to pay for them to live in more expensive institutions.

To recap Ranney’s main discoveries:

More than 5,700 Kansans with physical or developmental disabilities are waiting for Medicaid-funded services designed to help keep them out of a nursing home or state hospital.

About 2,000 people on the waiting list are developmentally disabled children or adults who are receiving some government-funded services but are waiting for others for which they are eligible.

But almost 3,800 of the disabled are receiving none of the assistance for which they are eligible and it is not uncommon for a person to wait years before the services become available.

The stories we’ve excerpted so far — “Waiting lists for state services expected to grow,”Man wants out of nursing home,” “Family awaits help.” and “Parents wait for help for ‘differently abled’ son” — show what that reality looks like in terms of people, not numbers.

So do two of the final pieces in Ranney’s series. “Disabled grandmother seeks help” tells the story of Doris Baker, 60, who is rearing her granddaughter.

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