Cole: Reform could affect Pawnee clients

By Maura Wery

State proposals to reform how Medicare-related services are provided might impact Pawnee Mental Health. Executive director Robbin Cole told the Riley County Commission Monday that patients in Riley County will be among the 380,000 statewide who are affected by the new KanCare program.

Cole said the program will split Medicare patients into three coverage groups in an effort to cut costs by around $1 million. “There is no question that the program needs to be reformed,” Cole said. Her concern has to do with “what is appropriate to reform.”

She told commissioners she fears the reform could become detrimental to both the mental health community and to Pawnee itself. As of right now, Cole said, only one provider has committed to the program, leaving some of Pawnee’s Medicare patients without a provider. A second change will come in the standards of treatment. Currently, if Pawnee is called out to either the hospital or to the Riley County Police Department for an individual who is thought to be mentally ill, patients can be screened on the spot. With these new providers, that might not be the case.

“Different service providers could have different standards for treatment,” Cole said. “Some might want to bring another provider in to screen.”

Cole said that the service is doing a large amount of prep work for the change, which is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. Her biggest concern is whether the service levels will be maintained.

“The availability of services could decline,” Cole said. “I’ve never seen spending reduced without having services reduced.”

K-18 changes

Crews are pushing to finish some of the final phases of the 2012 improvements before winter sets in. K-DOT representative Jerry Haug told commissioners that the Walnut Street Bridge into Ogden is open, as is the 56th Avenue intersection.

Haug said the next big change will be re-routing the traffic from Eureka Drive through Skyway while crews finish the on-ramp for Scenic Drive. He said those who take Eureka Drive regularly will now go west up Skyway and then will take the 56th Avenue intersection to get back east toward Manhattan.

Haug said a lot more changes are in store, especially around the time of Thanksgiving. He said that both of the west-bound lanes should be paved and opened around that time along with the on and off ramps for Scenic Drive. 



County clerk Rich Vargo issued a reminder that in-person advance voting begins Tuesday. Vargo said there are two locations, the normal location on the second floor of the County Office Building and a new satellite location at the Kansas State Student Union. The county office will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekdays and from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The satellite location will be open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vargo also suggested that voters may want to look at the sample ballot before hitting the polls. He said that because of redistricting, people might be curious which candidates they will be able to vote for. They will also be able to learn about the constitutional amendment and the Riley County sales tax.

Advance voting will end on Nov. 5 at noon.

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