Archive for Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Attorney General criticizes payments to CLO, but says no laws broken

December 22, 2009, 11:26 a.m. Updated December 22, 2009, 5:52 p.m.


— State officials bypassed their own procedures but didn’t break any laws in giving extra Medicaid funds to a nonprofit group with ties to the state Democratic Party chairman, Kansas’ attorney general said Tuesday.

Attorney General Steve Six also said there was no evidence that the top official at the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services provided the group an additional $713,000 because of pressure from the governor’s office.

The extra money went to Community Living Opportunities Inc., a Lenexa group serving the developmentally disabled whose care is covered by Medicaid. The funds were awarded by SRS Secretary Don Jordan in October 2008 for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Jordan has said the extra funds were justified because of the severity of the disabilities of the group’s clients. He had been contacted by the group about funding issues. State e-mail records show that Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates, who serves on Community Living’s board of directors, also contacted the governor’s chief of staff in 2008.

Questions arose in March 2009, when then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was awaiting confirmation as U.S. health and human services secretary, who oversees Medicaid. Gates has said he never talked to Sebelius directly, and Sebelius has said she left the decision to Jordan.

A state report in May said Jordan had the authority to give Community Living the extra funds, but in September, three Republican legislators asked Six to investigate whether Medicaid fraud had occurred. Six, Sebelius and her successor, Gov. Mark Parkinson, are Democrats.

Six’s report said that while the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services didn’t follow its own procedures, there was no evidence that Jordan or his staff filed false claims or intended to defraud anyone.

“The secretary, as head of the agency, has the authority to approve extraordinary funding,” Six wrote.

State Rep. Dave Crum, R-Augusta, one of the legislators seeking the investigation, said he was pleased it didn’t find fraud or false Medicaid claims.

But he says he also wants to follow up with Six to make sure there were no violations of federal rules that could result in a penalty for the state. Six’s report didn’t directly address that issue.

“I hope through this whole process, we can avoid future situations like this,” Crum said.

Jordan and Parkinson spokeswoman Beth Martino said they weren’t surprised by Six’s findings.

“I would hope that with all the budget problems we have, we can move on to other issues,” said Jordan, referring to five rounds of spending cuts made by the state to keep its budget balanced.

Martino said Parkinson “hopes this answers the questions that have been raised.”

The additional Medicaid funds were earmarked for 43 Community Living clients. State officials are trying to determine how much of the money should be returned.

Community Living CEO Michael Strouse said he believes state officials ultimately will find in the group’s favor and continue the funding for each client — achieving the same result as Jordan’s decision.

Critics, including other care providers, had complained that the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services bypassed the normal process of having one of 27 regional groups review each individual client’s case. In that process, the regional group decides, and SRS handles appeals.

But some groups deciding who gets additional funds also compete with Community Living for clients. The May report said the state should consider scrapping the process so only SRS makes such decisions.

“The system is broken,” Gates said Tuesday. “We had hit a brick wall within the system.”

Gates said he never pushed for specific outcome. Also, he noted, Jordan had SRS screen individual clients’ cases.

“I had very little to do with all this,” he said. “This whole thing has gotten blown out of proportion.”


wastewatcher 5 years, 11 months ago

WOW How does Secretary Jordan answer the finding that he broke his own rules? Is he the emperor that does what he wants regardless? Just aother example of the waste and corruption with the Sebelius people in Topeka.

Jim Scales 5 years, 11 months ago

I wonder how much of that money went to the clients and how much went to fund the new horse farm? Do other agencies have horse farms?

Jim Scales 5 years, 11 months ago

what a coincidence that CLO's CEO Mike Strauss is a horse enthusiast and has many horses of his own. and knowing many CLO staff I don't recall any other staff members having any interest in horses.

situveux1 5 years, 11 months ago

Gee, it's so coincidental that the horse farm cost around $1 million to build and happened at right about the same time they get nearly $1 million in extra funding.

Its_the_truth 5 years, 8 months ago

This CLO org. has a ton of conflict of interest, I ought to know, I've had to deal with it. It's horrible. They have good "friends" at every level of government. The staff at the bottom tier are good people but the highest of administration should be gone. There is a reason that they have profound turnover in employees. The work is hard and they are paid little but somehow CLO managed to get extra funding where others CDDOs didn't. I happen to know that my relative that resides in this organization has not ever had the benefit of the horse farm. (It's only for the developmentally disabled KIds, I was told). Isn't this where that extra funding went to??? I would love to see an full investigation of the place, financially and otherwise. One day it will happen.

altarego 5 years, 7 months ago

There's a lot of rumors about CLO, and I don't know what planet ya'll are on.

Anyone curious about Midnight Farms, visit their website and volunteer. You'll be amazed to see the hard work that is going on there.

And Truth, if you actually have a relative living at CLO, I expect you to get your facts straight. CLO is "under investigation" all the time, as are most state funded facilities. If your relative hasn't "received the benefit" of Midnight Farms, there could be any of a thousand reasons. CLO has dozens of programs for the people served, and a lot of work goes into developing a plan for each person. Your being satisfied with some rumor from someone that doesn't know what they are talking about shows me that you don't care much about the truth at all. When is the last time you visited your "relative?" Yea, I thought so.

Sure, it is hard work for low pay and the turnover is high because of it. Goes to show you should pay more taxes or donate to CLO or some similar organization yourself.

I know, it's a lot easier to sit behind a keyboard and make nasty comments like beabachter does. Playing games with peoples lives is entertaining to those types.

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