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Take 5 For Your Health

A Quick, Clickable Roundup Of Health News From Our Region — And Beyond — For The Second Week of December

Florence Crittenton building Florence Crittenton Services is a psychiatric residential treatment facility in Topeka that has 10 beds for young patients. A new policy from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services will reduce “reserve day” payments to Florence Crittenton Services and 10 other facilities in Kansas that provide care for Kansas children with serious mental health needs. (Photo: KHI News Service)
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KDADS Policy Change Creates New Budget Worries for Youth Psychiatric Facilities 

Dana Schoffelman sees one way to keep serving Kansas children with serious mental health needs without going under financially: taking fewer of them and supplementing with out-of-state children.

Schoffelman, executive director of Florence Crittenton Services in Topeka, has new financial concerns because of a policy change by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. KDADS recently announced a plan to reduce payments to psychiatric residential treatment facilities, or PRTFs, that provide care for children whose mental health needs are too severe to safely treat as outpatients.

The change for Florence Crittenton Services and the other 10 PRTFs across the state will take effect in March.

The department will reduce Medicaid payments by 40 percent on “reserve days,” when a child is temporarily away from the facility but it needs to hold the child’s bed open, said Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for KDADS. The change will bring the facilities’ reimbursements in line with those paid to nursing homes, save the state general fund about $350,000 and reduce total payments to the PRTFs by about $800,000, she said.

— Meg Wingerter is a reporter for KHI News Service, an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute, and a partner in Heartland Health Monitor, which also includes KCPT and KCUR. 

Proposal to Combine Health Licensing Boards Draws Opposition

Representatives of health licensing boards in Kansas made their case against consolidation to a special legislative committee Dec 6.

The committee was formed in response to a government efficiency study’s recommendation that the Legislature combine the state’s 141 professional licensing boards and commissions into three “umbrella” boards: general industry, public health and financial industry.

Rep. Dan Hawkins, a Republican from Wichita who chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee, led the special committee formed to study the possibility of combining the health licensing boards.

In its first meeting last week, the special legislative committee heard presentations from 11 groups representing Kansas nurses, doctors and psychiatrists, as well as professional licensing organizations with less obvious health connections, like the Kansas Board of Cosmetology and Kansas Board of Barbering.

Andy Marso is a reporter for KHI News Service

Kansas Advocacy Groups Push for Tax Increase to Fix Budget 

Groups representing Kansas teachers, state workers, contractors and others are proposing a tax overhaul they say would solve the state’s budget problems.

Duane Gossen at podium

Duane Goossen of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth and Annie McKay of Kansas Action for Children on Wednesday announced a tax overhaul proposal. The plan would undo some tax cuts made in recent years by raising the top income tax rate and reinstate income taxes on hundreds of thousands of businesses. (Photo: Stephen Koranda | Kansas Public Radio)

The plan would undo some tax cuts made in recent years by raising the top income tax rate. It also would reinstate income taxes on hundreds of thousands of businesses.

Former Kansas Budget Director Duane Goossen and others revealed the tax plan Wednesday in Topeka. Goossen said the tax cuts have hurt the state’s ability to invest in needed services and the proposal would reverse that.

“It’s a plan that will stabilize state government across the board, so we can pay for things like a 50-year water plan, fully staffed mental health hospitals and Highway Patrol officers in all Kansas counties,” he said.

— Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

Former Kansas AG Phill Kline Appeals Dismissal Of Suit Over Suspension Of His Law License

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is appealing a federal court’s dismissal of his lawsuit challenging the suspension of his law license by the Kansas Supreme Court three years ago.

Kline filed an electronic notice of appeal late Saturday to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

His attorney, Cincinnati lawyer Tom Condit, said in an email that if the federal court was right, “then state supreme court justices are the one class of people in America who can violate the civil rights of anyone they wish, with no accountability, and with their victims having no right to federal court review.”

The battle revolves around legal actions Kline initiated around abortion and underage pregnancy.

—Dan Margolies is editor of Heartland Health Monitor

From PBS NewsHour

The Breakthrough Prizes honor scientific achievements with the largest cash prizes in the field. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with science correspondent Miles O’Brien for more on this year’s winners.

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