News and Updates

Dear Providers,

As the 2021 Fall and Winter holiday seasons start, we want to send you an update on the upcoming holiday schedules for Community Connections Team Members.
Community Connections live chat and HCBS.team@wichita.edu will not be available the following dates for timely responses:
November 22 – November 26, 2021 December 20 – December 31, 2021 January 1 – January 3, 2022

Business will return to normal November 29, 2021 – December 17, 2021, and January 4, 2021, for hcbs.team@wichita.edu operations and live chat. Live chat hours will continue 9:00am – 5:00pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Inquiries submitted through live chat and the HCBS team email will be compiled and responded on once normal operations resume on the mentioned dates. Wishing you a safe and fun holiday season.
The HCBS Settings Final Rule – Community Connections Team

Technical assistance for the HCBS Provider Self-Assessment regarding remediation is about to change. Starting July 1, 2021, the CHAT feature on the communityconnectionsks.org website will be reducing its hours from 9am – 5pm, Monday through Friday. The new hours will be 9am – 5pm, Tuesday and Thursday only.  

This model change will allow a 1-1 remediation assistance approach for each Provider in need who will be assigned a Provider Support Specialist. The Provider Support Specialist will be able to directly answer and give more in-depth guidance for remediation questions pertaining to settings. A Community Connections Team Member will start contacting Providers June 21, 2021 by phone to offer this option for those needing assistance to continue remediation activities. This assistance is voluntary and not mandatory, but it is highly recommended for those that might need additional help.     

CHAT will return to technical assistance only with reduced hours to encourage  Provider Support Specialists to be the primary contact for Providers. As always, any CHATs received outside of normal operating hours will be cataloged and answered at a later date.  

July 1, 2021 is a state deadline to track final rule compliance progress for KDADS and milestone reporting to CMS.

It is strongly advised that all Providers work to submit a strategy and evidence for at least one setting to show a willingness to move toward final rule compliance by the federal deadline of March 17, 2023. Strategy selection and evidence submission are the two primary actions to show engagement with Community Connections. Providers that do not show engagement activities by July 1, 2021 could encounter the following consequences that include but are not limited to:

  1. Decreased time for setting (s) to be reviewed by the Validation and Desk Review Teams.
  2. Less time to remediate setting (s).
  3. Risk of transition proceedings during Fall 2022 if the setting is unable to show ability to comply by March 17, 2023.
  4. Additional setting (s) scrutiny by Community Connections and possibly CMS to determine the discontinuance of HCBS funds on March 18, 2023, if there is an inability to reach setting compliance by the federal deadline of March 17, 2023.
  5. Category 3 only settings have until July 1, 2021 to implement remediation strategies to have the designation removed, which will eliminate further review by the Community Connections’ Heightened Scrutiny Team and CMS.
    • As a reminder, Category 3 designations include any setting (s) that have the effect of isolating individuals receiving Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) from the broader community of individuals not receiving Medicaid HCBS.

Remediation Note:

It is okay and recommended to wait for a response from the Desk Review Team on the one setting strategy selection and evidence submission, before working to remediate additional locations. This method has proven efficient and effective for Providers and Community Connections.

Thank you for your actions to walk the road toward final rule compliance.

The Community Connections Team

On July 15, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a one year extension for states to come into compliance with the HCBS Settings Final Rule. With this extension, Kansas and HCBS providers now have until March 17, 2023 to come into compliance with the HCBS Settings Final Rule. You can read the full release from CMS here.

KDADS intends to use this one year extension to allow providers additional time to remediate and come into compliance with the requirements of the Final Rule. KDADS will continue to process self-assessment desk reviews and send out notifications to providers by September 1, 2020. In addition, KDADS will push back the timeline for transitioning HCBS waiver participants from settings that are unable or unwilling to come into compliance. KDADS will publish an updated timeline in the coming weeks.

This is an important update on the heightened scrutiny process.  Earlier guidance and trainings by KDADS included a timeline saying that heightened scrutiny reviews for categories 1 and 2 had to be submitted to CMS by July 1, 2020. 

The deadline for heightened scrutiny categories 1 and 2 submissions will be extended, in consideration of COVID-19 restrictions.  Also, the schedule for heightened scrutiny onsite assessments has been delayed. Impacted providers are being notified by email and phone. A new schedule and timeline have not been set at this time. When it is available, it will be shared on the Community Connections website and by email.

All category 1 and 2 settings will be contacted by KDADS prior to their onsite or equivalent Heightened Scrutiny Review. At this time, category 3 settings are not automatically slated for on-site review. KDADS reserves the right to initiate further heightened scrutiny processes for any category 3 settings based on evidence or lack thereof, as well as the public comment process indicating a need for further investigation. We would like to reassure you that the heightened scrutiny process has just begun. 

Please continue with current remediation efforts.  Additional guidance on heightened scrutiny will be available soon.  Thank you for your patience as we work together on the road to compliance.

Thank you,
The HCBS Team