Planned KanCare cuts have some with disabilities scrambling for contingencies

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. --   A man says he may have to divorce his wife even though they're happily married. He fears it may be the only way to keep his nursing care, which is slated to be cut November 1 under KanCare.

KanCare has been controversial with disabled folks like Finn Bullers, 49, since it went into effect earlier this year. Kansas leaders hope to save $1 billion over five years but Bullers says he's the face of everything that's wrong with the plan.

Bullers started using a wheelchair four years ago. He was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy that's gotten worse with age. When he got married he only needed a cane.

Now the father of two relies on a nurse 24/7 to help with everything from meals to his breathing tube when it gets twisted.

“I cannot use my hands, I have no muscle,” Bullers said.

But come November 1, the state wants to reduce his nursing help from all day, 168-hours a week, to 40 hours a week.

"If my hours get cut, my wife divorces me,” Bullers said.

He believes that might force the state to give him back most of his nursing hours that his doctors tell him he can't live without.

"I'm fighting like hell to do what I think is the right thing not only for me, but for 38,000 Kansans," Bullers said.

Protests at the state capitol earlier this year failed to stop KanCare.

“What we're trying to do with this is wisely be good stewards of taxpayer money, " Shawn Sullivan, Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Secretary, said.

Sullivan said for too long many Kansans have been getting services they don't qualify for, which could be serving those on the state's waiting list. When asked by FOX 4’s Rob Low about Bullers situation, Sullivan said the case had been adequately reviewed.

“He believes this is not about better outcomes but simply saving the state money?  I've reviewed his case, four other people in my agency have reviewed his case, we are comfortable with the proposed reduction in hours,” Sullivan told FOX 4’s Rob Low.

Rob Low:  "So Shawn, someone like him who's confined to a wheelchair, breathes through a tube when his wife's not home and he doesn't have a nurse, what's he supposed to do?"

“Rob, you're asking me specifics and I'm not going to comment on.  Again he will receive the hours that he needs in order to stay at home,” Sullivan replied.

Like all Kansans, Bullers has the right to appeal.

"Without being dramatic about it, I have the potential of dying,” Bullers said.

During that three-month appeal process he can keep his 24/7 nursing care, but after that he may be stuck with whatever the state decides.

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2 comments

  • RB

    I see why he has problems with the new law, but does he really need 24/7 care? How about enough to take care of him while his wife is at work? It would be better than divorce! If she truly loves him, she would do that for him instead of casting his care off on someone else.

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