Officials of a nonprofit group that serves the developmentally disabled told legislators Wednesday its perceived pull with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration isn’t the real issue in a dispute over its state funding.
Instead, they said, criticism of Community Living Opportunities’ increase in Medicaid payments is rooted in an ongoing turf battle involving some of its competitors. They also said their Lenexa-based group did nothing unusual in seeking help from the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.
The decision, made in October 2008 by SRS Secretary Don Jordan, is worth almost $713,000 a year to Community Living Opportunities. The Kansas House budget subcommittee on social services held a hearing on the matter Wednesday as Sebelius awaits confirmation as U.S. secretary of health and human services, who oversees Medicaid for the federal government.
Community Living’s board members include Larry Gates, a Sebelius friend and chairman of the Kansas Democratic Party. Gates contacted Sebelius’ chief of staff about the group’s funding issues, but he has said he never talked to Sebelius directly.
Also yesterday, a news story by Kansas Health Institute’s News Service, Special funding arrangement questioned, revealed Gov. Sebelius may have granted special favors to one program, Community Living Opportunities (CLO), which specializes in caring for people with severe disabilities. This favor was at the expense of other related programs, and to the benefit of CLO where Gov. Sebelius’ confidante served on its board.
Gov. Sebelius’ friend and Kansas Democratic Party chair, Larry Gates, appealed only as a “Kansas citizen” to Gov. Sebelius for approval of $712,00 in “extraordinary” funding for CLO. Gates and his law partner, Dan Biles (who was appointed by Gov. Sebelius to the Kansas Supreme Court in January 2009) happen to be on the board of CLO.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Health and Human Services Department, is facing questions about increased state payments to a social services group whose board includes the chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Last fall, Sebelius’ secretary of social and rehabilitation services, Don Jordan, approved an increased rate for Community Living Opportunities, a nonprofit group that provides services to the developmentally disabled, that amounted to $713,000.
The group’s board of directors included Larry Gates, a Sebelius friend who has served as state Democratic chairman for six years; Dan Biles, a Gates law partner recently appointed by Sebelius to the Kansas Supreme Court, and Lew Perkins, athletic director at the University of Kansas. Biles left the board at the end of 2008.