Tag Archives: Kansas

Privatization Moved State Workers to Unsecured Office

Source: Associated Press, September 21, 2017
The head of Kansas’ state employees union and a local lawmaker say a push by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to privatize state office space left employees vulnerable during a shooting this week at a Department of Revenue office in Wichita.  The workers were moved three years ago out of the now-vacant Finney Office building, which had guards and security, to a strip mall office that provided no security, The Wichita Eagle reported . On Tuesday, tax compliance officer Cortney Holloway was shot. … Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the larger Finney building with armed guards likely would have deterred a shooting.  …


Privatization moved state workers to unsecured office where shooting occurred
Source: Dion Lefler, Wichita Eagle, September 20, 2017
Workers at the Wichita tax office where an employee was shot Tuesday were moved out of a secured state office building into an unsecured storefront about three years ago, as part of Gov. Sam Brownback’s program of privatizing office space.  A state senator and the head of the state employee union said they think Tuesday’s shooting probably would have been avoided had the Department of Revenue tax office still been housed in the now-vacant Finney State Office Building downtown instead of a strip mall at 21st and Amidon. … “I’m sure they would have been more secured at the Finney State Office Building,” said Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees. “There were guards, there was protection.”  He said there was no protection Tuesday when tax compliance agent Cortney Holloway was shot at the Revenue Department office. …

KDADS Secretary makes pitch to privatize Osawatomie

Source: Melissa Brunner, WIBW, August 30, 2017
The Kansas Dept. for Aging and Disability services is making the case to privatize the Osawatomie State Hospital.   Secretary Tim Keck presented information Wednesday to state lawmakers and community leaders. Over nearly two hours, Keck detailed the history Osawatomie, the issues it has experienced in recent years and steps the state has taken to address the problems.  Looking to the future, Keck detailed a bid from Correct Care Recovery Solutions to rebuild and run Osawatomie, which lost federal certification in 2015. Correct Care runs mental health facilities around the country. …


State officials hope to replace, privatize Osawatomie State Hospital
Source: Peter Hancock, Lawrence Journal-World, August 30, 2017

State officials in Kansas began laying out their case Wednesday for why they think the state should replace the aging and troubled Osawatomie State Hospital with a new facility and hand over management of the facility to a for-profit, out-of-state corporation. Tim Keck, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, which manages the psychiatric hospital, said the hospital has become too challenging for the state to manage, and it is time for the state to make a decision. …

Kansas Lawmaker Leary Of Plans To Privatize Osawatomie
Source: Celia Llopis-Jepsen, KMUW, August 23, 2017

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has unveiled a proposal to build a new mental hospital at Osawatomie, which a Tennessee company would run. But Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward says the agency should be exploring in-house options. “This administration has a terrible history of privatization. Whether it be child support collection, DCF, KanCare,” Ward says. KDADS Secretary Tim Keck says the private operator would bring expertise and the ability to recruit mental health professionals. But, he says, his department is keeping an open mind. …

Kansas agency may privatize state psychiatric hospital working to regain federal funds
Source: Allison Kite, Topeka Capital-Journal, August 16, 2017
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is considering privatization for a troubled state psychiatric hospital that has now passed an initial step toward regaining some federal funding. KDADS Secretary Tim Keck said the department was considering a bid from Correct Care Recovery Solutions, which runs other mental health facilities across the country, to rebuild and privately run Osawatomie State Hospital.  The department also announced in a press release Wednesday that the acute care unit at the state psychiatric hospital had passed an initial survey required to get that part of the hospital re-certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. …

Kansas Official To Outline Privatization Plan For Osawatomie State Hospital
Source: Jim McLean, KCUR, August 14, 2017
One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.  Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.  On Tuesday Keck will outline a privatization plan submitted by a Tennessee-based company to stakeholders and legislators during a 1 p.m. meeting at hospital’s administration building. …

Osawatomie Contract Bidder Has History Of Safety Issues At Its Florida Psychiatric Facilities
Source: Meg Wingerter, KMUW, February 23, 2017

Correct Care Solutions, a Tennessee-based company that is the sole bidder for a contract to operate Osawatomie State Hospital, has a history of safety problems at the state psychiatric facilities it runs in Florida. Officials with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) declined to provide details this week on Correct Care’s bid to operate Osawatomie State Hospital, one of two state facilities for people deemed a danger to themselves or others. The department is evaluating the proposal and hasn’t given a timeline for whether or when it would bring it before the Legislature. Under a law they approved last year, lawmakers must approve the contract before KDADS can move forward. …

‘Tough’ Budget: New Funding Unlikely For Kan. Mental Health System
Source: Meg Wingerter, Hays Post, February 12, 2017

A key Kansas lawmaker says the state doesn’t have the money to fix problems in its mental health system, which a new report says are getting steadily worse. The report, the second from a task force created in 2015 to advise the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, says the system has continued to deteriorate. The task force’s first report, issued about 18 months ago, concluded the system was “stretched beyond its ability to provide the right care at the right time in the right place.” Rep. Brenda Landwehr, who chairs the House Social Services Budget Committee, agreed there are substantial gaps in the system but said lawmakers are virtually powerless to respond because of the depth of the state’s budget problems. … Given the amount of projected red ink, Landwehr said the state can’t afford to implement task force recommendations that would require significant new spending. Specifically, she said, it can’t afford to add psychiatric residential services for people covered by KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. … In the updated report, task force members also signaled their opposition to privatizing Osawatomie State Hospital, citing concerns about the quality of care delivered by for-profit contractors in other states. … More than 60 [House members] have signed on to a bill that would prohibit the privatization of either of the state’s mental health hospitals unless authorized by the Legislature. …

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Privatization considered at Osawatomie State Hospital
Source: Charity Keitel, Miami County Republic, November 23, 2016

After more than a year of improvements, renovations and the pursuit of recertification, the Osawatomie State Hospital’s (OSH) future continues to remain in a state of flux. Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Interim Secretary Tim Keck recently announced that a request for proposal (RFP) for privatization of the operation of OSH has been put into effect. The RFP entails several specifications and could allow for a partial privatization of the hospital or a full bid for the entire operation. The RFP states that the state may award one contract to assume responsibility for providing at least 206 inpatient beds within the state of Kansas, but a minimum of only 94 inpatient beds would be required to be maintained at the current Osawatomie State Hospital campus. The remaining beds could be maintained at the OSH campus or at another KDADS-approved facility within the state hospital’s 45-county catchment area. Despite the RFP, Keck said it in no way means that privatization is a certainty in OSH’s future. He said he believes it is worthwhile to consider all the options even those that may not come to fruition. The RFP can be rescinded at any time for any reason at the state’s discretion. … Jones went on to say that he does not agree with an RFP that plans to move beds away from OSH and not increase functions there. He said the RFP seems to allow for a move of beds away from the state hospital as an option, which he does not favor. … It’s his belief that the legislators need to push back and make sure the RFP does not make it through the legislature. …

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Fact Meter: Kansas budget director’s chart offers misleading view of KanCare waiting list

Source: Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, August 28, 2017
The fate of thousands of Kansans with intellectual or developmental disabilities who don’t receive benefits for which they’re qualified remains a contentious issue more than four years into operation of the state’s privatized $3 billion Medicaid system. Shawn Sullivan, budget director for Gov. Sam Brownback, discussed during a presentation to a House and Senate oversight committee the need for sustained state government revenue growth to shrink the waiting list for home- or community-based services through Medicaid. …


Kansans share KanCare concerns with legislative panel
Source: Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, August 22, 2017

Individuals and associations representing enrollees in Kansas’ Medicaid program shared frustration Monday with difficulty securing services for thousands of people eligible for assistance as well as with Gov. Sam Brownback’s declaration of policy victory for saving the state treasury $1.4 billion after turning the system over to three insurance companies. … Dozens of issues were raised at the Capitol during a hearing of the Kansas Legislature’s joint committee on KanCare oversight. Testimony in support of the KanCare insurance providers and state agencies blended with complaints raised repeatedly over the years. This inquiry by legislators occurs at a time of transition, with Brownback preparing to leave office and the state applying to the federal government for permission to continue with KanCare, which serves more than 400,000 low-income adults, pregnant women and people with disabilities. …

Feds stop requiring bi-weekly Kansas reports on Medicaid
Source: Associated Press, July 12, 2017
Federal officials are no longer requiring Kansas to file bi-weekly reports on a large backlog of applicants for the state’s privatized Medicaid program.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment was notified last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid that the state can discontinue the reports it has been sending since early 2006. At the time, Kansas had more than 7,000 backlogged applications that had been pending for more than 45 days for its Medicaid program, called KanCare. …

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Kansas Lawmakers Advancing Bill for Oversight of Foster Care

Source: Associated Press, May 12, 2017
Kansas lawmakers have advanced a bill that would increase their oversight of the state’s privatized foster care system and the contractors running it.  The House gave first-round approval to the measure Friday on a voice vote. Members planned to take another vote to determine whether the proposal goes to the Senate.  The bill would create an 18-member task force to collect data from the state Department for Children and Families on the foster care system and its contractors and to make recommendations for improvement. …


Kansas House Committee Approves Foster Care Task Force
Source: Allison Kite, Associated Press, May 9, 2017
A House committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow Kansas lawmakers to more closely oversee the state’s privatized foster care system and the contractors that run it amid questions about how the state monitors the program.  The bill passed by the House Children and Seniors Committee would create an 18-member foster care task force to study the system.  The task force would collect data from the Kansas Department for Children and Families on the foster care system and its contractors and make recommendations for improvement. …

Audit finds problems in privatized foster care system, faults DCF for lax oversight
Source: Peter Hancock, Lawrence Journal World, April 28, 2017
The private nonprofit agencies that manage Kansas’ foster care system do not have the capacity in many parts of the state to handle the volume of cases they deal with, and the Kansas Department for Children and Families often does not conduct adequate oversight of those contractors.  Those are the findings of a Legislative Post Audit report on the foster care program that was delivered to lawmakers Friday.  However, auditors also said there would be enormous costs for the state if it decided to take back control and operation of the program itself. The report was the third and final part of a comprehensive audit that lawmakers ordered following two deaths in 2014 of children who were in the foster care system. …

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Plan would cut Kansas prison’s staffing more than 40 percent

Source: John Hanna, Associated Press, February 8, 2017

Kansas would cut staffing at its largest prison by more than 40 percent under a plan for replacing it by leasing a modern lockup built by a private company, the state’s top corrections official told legislators Wednesday.  Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood said the new prison in Lansing, built where part of the existing one now stands, would require fewer officers to watch inmates, would be safer and would operate more efficiently. … On Wednesday, several prominent Democratic legislators questioned whether Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is moving too quickly. They also suggested that the lease-purchase proposal would be a step toward privatizing the prison system. … Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the largest union for state employees, questioned that assessment, saying staffing is based on the number of inmates.  “I just find it incredibly concerning,” she said of the proposal and the department’s projections for a smaller staff. …

Editorial: Seeking answers about a bungled state technology project

Source: Topeka Capital-Journal, December 13, 2016

At a time when our state faces a $350 million projected budget shortfall and a $580 million reduction in anticipated revenue next year, Kansans need to be especially critical of how the Brownback administration is spending money. This is why recent news of an expensive, botched attempt to modernize the state’s data technology is so frustrating — it was a $17 million failure. Phil Whittmer is the chief IT officer in Kansas, and he explained that the Executive Branch Technology Modernization project (the internal attempt to replace an IBM mainframe that handles data for four state agencies) was too costly to sustain. … In place of EBTM, the state negotiated a five-year, $14 million deal with a Chicago-based technology company called Ensono. According to the executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, Rebecca Proctor, IT workers are worried about losing their jobs when the project moves out of state. Department of Administration spokesman John Milburn said a meeting about the outsourced project was held with IT workers two weeks ago, but he couldn’t say exactly what this would mean for their jobs: “It’s unclear at this time just exactly how many will be affected.” The Legislature commissioned an efficiency study from Alvarez and Marsal (released in January) that recommended “a comprehensive data center outsourcing initiative” that would include “all existing state-owned data centers.” The study’s authors say this could “generate between 15 and 25 percent in total savings or $960,000 to $1.6 million in annual savings.” While the concerns about outsourcing raised by state IT workers (lost jobs, taxpayer funds leaving Kansas, etc.) are valid and disconcerting, there are economic realities that can’t be avoided. … At this point, one thing seems certain: the EBTM mess is a worst-of-both-worlds scenario for Kansans. Not only will an important technology project be outsourced, but the state is $17 million poorer for no reason.


Brownback administration tight-lipped on $17m tech expense
Source: Celia Llopis-Jensen, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 11, 2016

The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback has refused to explain details of a $17 million expenditure on IT efforts that were later abandoned in favor of outsourcing. The Capital-Journal is seeking information about why the expenditure was approved, whether the state will be able to recoup it, and whether the state remains on the hook for more of the total project costs, which a recent report listed as $33 million. The Capital-Journal asked Department of Administration spokesperson John Milburn:

  • Whether the $17 million was spent on leasing fees.
  • Whether the equipment has been sitting in storage unused.
  • Why the administration decided in 2013 to pursue the project, then scrapped it as too expensive.
  • Whether the administration is concerned about the $17 million spent so far and the prospects for recouping it.
  • Whether Kansas is obligated to pay any more of the $33 million in project costs, such as for any ongoing fees.

“We have several alternatives in front of us that will allow us to recover some costs,” Milburn replied. “It is a complex technical issue that the team has been working through and some of those answers will become clear in the next three to six months.” The Governor’s Office didn’t answer similar questions. It deferred to Milburn. At issue is a now-sidelined effort to create a state-run platform that would replace an IBM mainframe in the Landon data center that serves four major state agencies. The initiative was called Executive Branch Technology Modernization (EBTM), or Kansas GovCloud.

Kansas poured $17m into tech solution before outsourcing instead
Source: Celia Llopis-Jensen, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 8, 2016

The administration of Gov. Sam Brownback spent $17 million on resolving technology needs in-house before abandoning the effort in favor of outsourcing to an out-of-state company. The state’s head of IT, who put the in-house Executive Branch Technology Modernization project on hold, says it was too expensive. … Kansas reached the five-year, $14 million deal with Ensono in September. State workers are on edge about potentially losing their jobs since being called to a meeting last week about the matter. Department of Administration spokesman John Milburn didn’t answer questions Thursday regarding why EBTM was initially approved, where the equipment for the project is being stored, and whether any of the $17 million can be recouped. Quarterly project reports produced by the Office of Information Technology Services indicate the EBTM plan — also dubbed Kansas GovCloud — was approved in September 2013, under a previous chief IT officer. The reports showed the project as active up to the first quarter of 2016, when it was listed as “on hold.” Estimated total expenses for the project and three years of operational costs were $32.75 million. The report said $16.95 million had been spent so far, and the project remained frozen “pending outcome of financial and scope reviews.” … For the Ensono contract, Wittmer told lawmakers Thursday his office considered bids from in-state companies. In total, the state received eight bids, but the in-state options fell short of the physical requirements and security needs. Wittmer said the primary location for Kansas’ data, once housed with Ensono, will be in the suburbs of Chicago, and the backup will be in Arkansas. The state’s current mainframe situation needed to be addressed, he said. Last Christmas, for example, a power outage brought down the state’s Landon data center, which includes the mainframe, for about a day. … Last January, an external state efficiency audit commissioned by the Legislature concluded that Kansas was spending $6.4 million annually on mainframe operation, including pay for the 40 full-time-equivalent IT employees who support it. The audit recommended outsourcing. …

Kansas inks deal to outsource IT to Chicago-area company
Source: Celia Llopis-Jensen, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 7, 2016

The state will retire a mainframe used by four major state agencies and contract with a private company in its stead, drawing concern from state employees about potential impending layoffs. The state has inked a five-year contract with Illinois-based Ensono for more than $14 million to replace an IBM mainframe, as recommended last January in a state efficiency review commissioned by the Legislature. The January efficiency study laid out several opportunities for IT-related savings across state agencies. … Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said she has heard concerns from IT workers who say they were called to a meeting last week to discuss the decision regarding the mainframe. IT workers are concerned they will lose their jobs, and that outsourcing these services sends taxpayer dollars out of state. One IT worker emailed Proctor following the meeting to say it appeared dozens of employees would be laid off. Milburn confirmed a meeting had taken place but said he does not have specifics about potential job cuts. … Asked about the concern that the contract with Ensono would send public money out of state, Milburn said state contracts are sometimes with in-state and sometimes with out-of-state companies. Proctor said the KOSE union hasn’t been informed of any layoff plan yet. The state has to notify the union at least 45 days in advance, she said. … The audit says the state operates a single IBM mainframe at an annual cost of $6.38 million, including $2.4 million in labor costs. About 40 full-time-equivalent IT employees support the mainframe, which serves the Department for Children and Families, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor. “If bundled with a comprehensive data center outsourcing initiative,” the report says, “the state could generate between 15 and 25 percent in total savings or $960,000 to $1.6 million in annual savings.” The audit recommends considering contracts with private companies not just for the mainframe, but for “all existing state-owned data centers,” which includes servers and storage. The report says there are 60 full-time-equivalent public jobs supporting “the server, storage and data center environment,” representing $4.3 million in annual labor costs. …

Lawyer alleges federal prosecutor said he could listen to attorney-prisoner phone calls

Source: Jonathan Shorman, Topeka Capital-Journal, October 26, 2016

An attorney for an inmate at the Leavenworth Detention Center alleges federal prosecutors not only obtained recordings of her client’s phone calls with a lawyer, but also listened to them. Melanie Morgan said in court documents filed Wednesday that an assistant U.S. attorney indicated that he could “freely listen” to calls between her client, Michelle Reulet, and another defense lawyer. Morgan, a Kansas City-based attorney, charges the prosecutor defended his actions, saying the lawyer no longer represents Reulet. Morgan said that wasn’t the case. Disclosures in the ongoing saga over the surveillance of detainees at the detention center, run by Corrections Corporation of America, had slowed after U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson appointed a special master earlier this month to examine the situation. Prisoner phone calls with attorneys have been recorded and videos were made of attorney-client meeting rooms. … The controversy over the recordings emerged in the background of a sprawling investigation of drug and contraband trafficking within Leavenworth Detention Center. A handful of people have been charged, but prosecutors indicate they believe upwards of 90 inmates may be involved as well as a number of workers. Defense attorneys representing inmates have said the recordings violate the inmates’ Sixth Amendment rights. But prosecutors have argued the phone recordings are not privileged because the facility warned inmates their calls may be recorded. …


Federal Judge Names Ohio Expert In Kansas Prison Recordings Case
Source: Associated Press, October 12, 2016

A federal judge in Kansas has appointed an Ohio attorney to investigate whether recordings of attorney-client conversations at a for-profit federal prison violated inmates’ constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Tuesday appointed David R. Cohen as special master, or expert, to identify and retain confidential information contained in recordings at the Corrections Corporation of America facility in Leavenworth

Defense lawyer raises new questions about secretly recorded jailhouse calls
Source: Jeff German, Las Vegas Review Journal, October 5, 2016

A defense lawyer has stepped forward to allege the federal detention center in Pahrump secretly recorded her confidential phone conversations with a client and then turned over the recordings to prosecutors in the case. Kathleen Bliss, a former longtime federal prosecutor, cited the alleged attorney-client breaches this week in a motion to dismiss a robbery case against her client, Robert Kincade, because of government misconduct. … They said hundreds of federal inmates at the Pahrump facility, run by Corrections Corporation of America, might be affected, and they asked a judge to appoint a special master to determine whether the practice is widespread. In her motion, Bliss said prosecutors in June turned over hundreds of recordings of Kincade at the detention center, including some with her. … Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a new indictment against Kincade, who has been at the Pahrump detention center for the past 18 months, charging him with a series of bank robberies between 2011 and 2014. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates federal detention centers across the country, has been “lambasted” by federal judges for invading the privacy of inmates at some of the company’s other facilities, Bliss wrote. …

Leavenworth CCA phone provider was accused of recording attorney calls in Texas
Source: Jonathan Shorman, Topeka Capital-Journal, September 16, 2016

Before revelations last month about the recording of inmate calls at Leavenworth Detention Center, a coalition of attorneys sued in Texas accusing a county sheriff, prosecutors and a phone technology company of recording attorney-client calls, despite assurances they didn’t. That company — Securus — also provides phone services to the Leavenworth facility. … The continuing disclosures surrounding recordings at the detention center, run by Corrections Corporation of America, has frustrated lawyers. Attorney-client privilege is a bedrock principle of the American legal system — a protection defense attorneys argue was violated at Leavenworth. It is unknown at this point how many attorney-client calls were recorded at Leavenworth, and how many attorneys were recorded despite requests to be shielded. Nor is it known why one attorney’s calls were recorded despite his requests otherwise. …

How a prison drug smuggling case in Kansas led to a showdown over recordings of inmate-attorney talks
Source: Johnathan Shorman, Topeka Capital-Journal, August 17, 2016

When attorneys said in court Tuesday that phone calls between lawyers and inmates at Leavenworth Detention Center had been recorded and obtained by federal prosecutors, the development was just the latest revelation in what a United States public defender says was a systemic violation of constitutional rights. The assertions by defense attorneys that federal prosecutors obtained video recordings of in-person meetings and audio of calls between inmates and their lawyers at Leavenworth Detention Center have already affected criminal cases resulting from a sprawling investigation of drug trafficking within the facility. Other cases could be ensnared as well. … The recordings have been brought to light as part of the ongoing prosecution of seven individuals who are accused of participating in a smuggling ring while in Leavenworth Detention Center, a facility privately run by Corrections Corporation of America. …

New Disclosure: Attorney-Client Phone Calls Were Recorded At Leavenworth Detention Center
Source: Don Margolies, KCUR, August 16, 2016

New revelations emerged at a court hearing today that the private prison contractor operating a pretrial detention center in Leavenworth recorded phone conversations between attorneys and their clients and turned them over to federal prosecutors.   The disclosures came atop revelations at a hearing last Tuesday that the contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), had made video recordings of meetings at the Leavenworth Detention Center between lawyers and their clients and turned those over to prosecutors. … Brannon’s impassioned denunciation elicited an objection from Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett, who said Brannon was making allegations against her colleagues without proof. Judge Robinson, however, let Brannon continue. Brannon told Robinson that communications between her office and the U.S. Attorney’s office had broken down and urged that as an additional reason to appoint a special master. … Brannon also told the court that government prosecutors had made additional, unspecified threats against the private attorney who first disclosed that the government possessed privileged communications between attorneys and their clients. Robinson granted her request to present that information in the judge’s chambers, so further details were not available. …

Kansas federal public defender requests inquiry into jail recordings
Source: Roxana Hegeman, Wichita Eagle, August 16, 2016

The federal public defender’s office in Kansas on Monday requested a special master’s inquiry into prison recordings of confidential conversations between inmates and their attorneys. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to determine the appointment and scope of a special master in the case. The practice surfaced in a case over distribution of contraband at the Leavenworth Detention Center in which video recordings, which contained no audio, were subpoenaed by a grand jury. But the defense outcry is now rippling across cases. … Brannon contends the Corrections Corporation of America has routinely and surreptitiously recorded video of meetings between counsel and clients that were supposed to be confidential, as well as attorney-client phone calls that were recorded and provided to the U.S. Attorney’s Office without notice to the defendants.

Recordings Of Attorney-Client Meetings Spur Outrage Among Criminal Defense Lawyers
Source: Dan Margolies, KCUR, August 12, 2016

An investigation into the distribution of contraband at the Leavenworth Detention Center has morphed into an explosive case involving possible violations of attorney-client privilege on a massive scale. Evidence at a hearing Tuesday revealed that the private contractor operating the facility, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), made video recordings of confidential conversations between inmates and their attorneys and passed some of it on to government prosecutors in response to a grand jury subpoena. … The Kansas Federal Public Defender Office says it first learned of the recordings last week after a private attorney, Jacquelyn Rokusek, was told by federal prosecutors they had evidence, in the form of a video recording, that she had a conflict of interest and should withdraw from a related case. The Federal Public Defender represents about 75 clients at CCA Leavenworth, a pretrial detention center that houses inmates from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rokusek was later given an opportunity to review the recording, which included videos of meetings between other attorneys and their clients. She brought the recording’s existence to the attention of an employee of the Federal Public Defender, which led to the emergency hearing on Tuesday. … The existence of the recordings was disclosed in court by Rokusek, who was put on the witness stand by Melody Brannon, the head of the Kansas Federal Public Defender’s office. Brannon told the court that CCA had video recordings of attorney-client meetings in the contraband case spanning a 10-month period from July 2015 to April 2016. … Unknown at this point is whether CCA has recorded attorney-client meetings at its other facilities and whether it routinely turns the footage over to prosecutors. CCA manages 85 facilities for federal, state and local governments throughout the country, according to information on its website. …

Shawnee County to outsource printing, mailing on property tax statements

Source: Tim Hrenchir, Topeka Capital-Journal, October 3, 2016

Shawnee County will try outsourcing its printing and mailing of property tax statements. County commissioners Shelly Buhler, Bob Archer and Kevin Cook voted 3-0 Monday to authorize Treasurer Larry Mah to enter into a contract with Des Moines, Iowa-based Mail Services LLC putting the arrangement in place. … Mah told commissioners Monday that as far as he knew, the county has always worked in-house to print and mail property tax statements each December and May. The county mails out an estimated 121,000 such pieces annually, according to the contract approved Monday. Monday’s vote also authorized Mah to bypass the county’s standard practice of seeking bids for services so he could work directly with Mail Services LLC. … He stressed that the contract allows Shawnee County to cancel the arrangement at any time. …

Lawmakers meet to discuss Medicaid backlog

Source: Gabriella Dunn, Wichita Eagle, August 4, 2016

Lawmakers say they have received a flood of phone calls from residents who are fed up with how long it’s taking the state to process applications for Medicaid, the insurance program for people with low incomes or who are disabled. … Mounting problems with the state’s backlog of Medicaid applications prompted Thursday’s meeting of the KanCare Oversight Committee. State officials told lawmakers Thursday that 3,587 applicants have been waiting 45 days or longer. That’s down from the 10,961 who had been waiting for that amount of time in mid-May. Hawkins said one of his family members submitted the same document three or four times and received notice from the state each time that the application clearinghouse had not received the documentation. … The backlog was caused in part by the state switching its computer system that processes Medicaid applications about a year ago. The problem worsened in January, when the state switched the agency that oversees some of the applications. Then in mid-May the state found out that backlog had been inaccurately reported by its third-party contractor, Accenture, and was four times larger than previously thought. …


‘It’s a pretty epic screw up’: Kansas contractors’ miscue misses 12,000 on Medicaid waiting list
Source: Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, June 17, 2016

An error by a contractor working for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment dramatically underrepresented — by 12,000 people — the scope of Kansas’ backlog of applications for Medicaid eligibility, officials said Friday. Susan Mosier, secretary of KDHE and the state’s Medicaid director, sent a letter to federal officials in early June disclosing a contractor relied upon a flawed method of reporting the Medicaid processing. The correction pushed the waiting list from 3,500 people on May 8 to 15,400 on May 22. … Shifting of processing oversight from the Kansas Department for Children and Families to KDHE in January escalated the bottleneck for people seeking to enroll in KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program. In February, more than 18,200 applications for Medicaid were awaiting action by the state. Of that total, 7,750 applications had been sitting in the queue for more than the federal limit of 45 days. Documents submitted by KDHE to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which required updates on progress addressing the backlog, indicated the state narrowed the application blockade to 15,800 in March and 7,700 in April. The number exceeding the 45-day limit also appeared to have been reduced to 2,000 on May 8. However, the corrected report showed that on May 22 the number of stalled applications jumped to 15,400 and the portion on hand more than 45 days amounted to 10,900. …

Kansas Medicaid Applicants Face Delays After Rollout Of New Computer System
Source: Andy Marso, KCUR, December 14, 2015

The Kansas Legislature’s auditors say that the rollout of the computer system the state now uses to process Medicaid applications was long delayed in part because the contractor’s software required numerous modifications. State officials say the system is improving and ultimately will make applying for Medicaid and social services a much more efficient process. But documents obtained by KHI News Service show that state workers must learn dozens of “workarounds” to process applications. And some service providers who help clients get Medicaid coverage are reporting much longer processing times since the system went live in July and the state deals with a backlog of applications. Kansas signed a contract with Accenture to build the Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, or KEES, in 2011. The system originally was slated to be complete by the end of 2013, , but considerable delays caused lawmakers to seek an audit in March. The audit report published Thursday said the KEES timeline was unrealistic from the beginning. The system had to be adjusted because of state and federal changes to Medicaid, some due to the Affordable Care Act. But there also were problems with Accenture’s “out-of-the-box” software.

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Opinion: EMS too important to privatize

Source: Jim Howell, Derby Inquirer, July 29, 2016

Sedgwick County has invested for decades to develop an excellent EMS system. If you have a medical emergency in Sedgwick County, you can have confidence in the robust system of first responder emergency care. Our system is second to none. … Recently, Wichita city councilmembers discussed the possibility of terminating the EMS agreement between our two organizations to allow private companies the ability to provide non-emergent transport services within Wichita’s city limits. Non-emergent transports are used in non-lifethreatening calls like taking someone from a nursing home to the hospital for routine tests. Fortunately for Wichitans, the council did not have enough votes to terminate the agreement. Nevertheless, the council seems determined to terminate the agreement and will revisit that opportunity soon. This is an important issue that may affect all of our EMS stakeholders. … Shifting the non-emergency transport service to the private sector may seem like a free-market idea but the time to have had this discussion was 30 years ago. Please understand that if the non-emergent transports are shifted to the private sector now, it will have a significant impact on the balanced system of care currently in place. We will be forced to decide between reducing services, shifting existing revenue within the budget, raising taxes, or raising ambulance fees. This proposal is creating instability and uncertainty for our existing system. …