Governor Sam Brownback this week signed bills that prevent the privatization of troubled state mental hospitals unless lawmakers approve. There have been staff shortages and other issues at the Larned and Osawatomie state hospitals.
The secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has said in the past he wants to at least consider the option of privatizing state hospitals. This week, Governor Brownback was asked by a reporter if privatizing the facilities is a long-term solution for the problems.
“I think we need to take good, hard looks at these places and see what we can do to help it be more efficient and effective, but I’m nowhere near making the kind of statement that you’re talking about there,” says Brownback.
The budget includes an additional $17 million for the state mental hospitals, including funding for staff raises.
A spokesperson for the Department for Aging and Disability Services says their first priority is getting Osawatomie State Hospital recertified by the federal government. Angela de Rocha says the department won't seek any privatization proposals without first consulting lawmakers.