A 7-Year Medicaid Waitlist

To read on Kaiser Health News website:

To Get Disability Help In Kansas, Thousands Face A 7-Year Medicaid Waitlist

Waitlist

Nick Fugate (center), pictured here with his parents, Julie and Ron, has been adjusting to life on Kansas’ waiting list to get life-assistance services through Medicaid. (Alex Smith/KCUR)

For 22 years, Nick Fugate washed dishes at a local hotel near his home in Olathe, Kan.

“There was nothing easy,” said the 42-year-old man who has an intellectual disability, chuckling. “I just constantly had to scrape the dishes off to get them clean.”

The work did sometimes get tedious, he said, but he didn’t really mind. “Just as long as I got the job done, it was fine,” he said.

Nick’s father, Ron Fugate, said the job was the key to the self-reliance he’s wanted for his son ever since Nick was born with an intellectual disability 42 years ago.

“From our perspective,” Ron said, “having a job, being independent, participating in the community, paying taxes, being a good citizen — that’s a dream parents have for their children in general.”

But things got tough last year when Nick lost his job and his health insurance. For the first time, he enrolled in Medicaid. He got his basic medical care covered right away, but in Kansas, there’s now a long waitlist — a seven-year wait — for people with intellectual disabilities to get the services they need. Decades ago, Fugate might have been institutionalized, but Medicaid now provides services to help people remain independent — including job coaching, help buying groceries, food preparation and transportation. These are the services Nick is eligible for but must wait to receive through Medicaid.

In the months since losing his employment, Nick has had to pay around $1,000 a month out of pocket for help buying groceries, career coaching and transportation. Those expenses are quickly burning through his life savings.

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