Knowing where to find assistance in the maze of government programs can be daunting for anyone, particularly seniors who have never before dealt with such processes.
Most Kansas programs for seniors have been administered through the Department for Children and Families, including KanCare, a program that provides medical assistance to persons 65 or over.
That will change Jan. 1 when the Department of Health and Environment takes over processing of KanCare applications and eligibility determination. The move comes as part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s initiative to reorganize and streamline various programs scattered among executive branch departments.
DCF handled the program because children and those with disabilities also can get KanCare benefits, but the move seeks to consolidate health care programs under KDHE.
Marion County Department on Aging director Gayla Ratzlaff said the move should make the process better for seniors.
“Instead of people saying, ‘Where do I go for this,’ they’re just combining it under one department, which can be helpful to the public,” Ratzlaff said. “It was kind of separated out who processed those applications.”
Seniors can apply by filling out and sending in paper forms, a process Ratzlaff has assisted numerous people with. What will change for her, she said, is where she sends them. While she helps with the forms, Ratzlaff doesn’t determine if people are eligible; that’s done in Topeka.
What won’t change is the online application option at ApplyforKancare.ks.gov, Ratzlaff said. Once a senior establishes an account, they can apply and upload supporting documents, such as income documentation, through the website.
KanCare participants are eligible for medical, dental, and mental health services, and can receive assistance to pay costs associated with their Medicare coverage, such as premiums, co-payments, and deductibles.
The cost to participate depends on a person’s income, Ratzlaff said.
“If you’re a working adult, it’s not as likely you’ll be eligible for KanCare,” she said.
Seniors can call (800) 792-4884 for assistance with the application process. Beginning Jan. 1, KDHE will have additional specialists in Emporia and Salina available for face-to-face visits, if necessary.
“If you think you might be eligible it’s always best to apply and see than to not apply at all,” Ratzlaff said.