Monday, September 19, 2011

Kansas Lt Gov Colyer Said The State Will Cut Medicaid $720 Million Over The Next Several Years


Colyer: State must reform Medicaid

Posted on Mon, Sep. 19, 2011

TOPEKA — Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer today described a bleak future for the state's Medicaid program — unless reforms drive down costs and people begin making healthier lifestyle choices.
Without changes, rapidly growing costs will overwhelm the state and affect funding for things such as K-12 education.
Colyer said Medicaid, the health program for low-income residents, should do what some insurance companies do and reward patients who quit smoking, work their way out of obesity and take their medicine. And the 40-year-old program should work to transition users to private health insurance, he added.
"This (Medicaid) is the most complex thing I've seen in government," he said. "And we aren't going to fix it in one year."
Colyer's call for reform and improved services comes when federal funding is expected to decrease. Some say Colyer's descriptions of cutting costs and improving services are too rosy.
"I don't see how it can possibly work in any way, shape or form," said Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan.
He said he works with patients who need a lot of care. If they don't have adequate finances for proper care, they'll be in emergency rooms, which is part of the disaster the state is trying to avoid.
"You're never going to cut medical costs down, you know that," Reitz, who is a doctor, said to Colyer, who is also a doctor.
Colyer said that federal cuts to Medicaid announced today translate to roughly $720 million in reductions to Kansas over several years.
He said ideas gathered from more than 1,200 people in four public forums on Medicaid reform this summer — plus concepts used in other states — show Kansas needs to create a safety net for its neediest, a system that links outcomes to price, provides employers with incentives to hire people with disabilities and provides people to coordinate patients' care.
Reitz said there's no way the state can improve while drastically cutting funds without embellishing services.
"It won't happen; it can't happen," he said. "If it does, you're going to have people marching on the Statehouse, tearing the place apart, saying, 'We can't go on this way. Try something else.' "
Colyer disagreed.
"I believe economic forces do work and do force us into better patient care," he said. He cited laptop computers as an example, saying they were once thousands of dollars and now are cheaper and have better technology.
Colyer said the state can save money by having someone coordinate health care for patients with serious problems.
"If we can navigate them through, you can save money on not institutionalizing them," he said.
Reitz said he and other doctors already help their patients manage their care.

Reach Brent D. Wistrom at 785-296-3006 or

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nola Foulston to retire as district attorney

Posted on Fri, Sep. 16, 2011

District Attorney Nola Foulston, who prosecuted Sedgwick County's most notorious criminals for nearly a quarter-century, has decided to retire."At some point in time, you have to say it's time to give someone else a chance," she told the Eagle in explaining her decision to leave office.In a letter she plans to share today with her staff, friends and colleagues, Foulston said she will enter private practice when her current term expires."After over 30 years in public service, I have made the decision to 'retire' at the end of my term as district attorney in January of 2013 and plan to return to the private practice of law at that time," she said in the letter. "I have had a wonderful experience as district attorney, and feel that it's time now for me to step down from this position and become a private citizen."Foulston said in an interview at her home that she had been thinking for some time about returning to private life. "It's kind of like being a football player," she said. "I don't want to play until my legs are broken or I can't work any more."Foulston, 60, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, but she said the disease is in remission and her health had nothing to do with her decision. She said she had no specific plans other than to resume the practice of law as a private citizen.She was first elected in 1988, and was never seriously challenged in her five bids for re-election.Foulston said she seriously considered not entering the 2008 race, but decided she had to run after Republican Mark Schoenhofer entered the contest. She said she was concerned about changes Schoenhofer might make in the office, which now has an $8 million annual budget and 130 employees, 55 of whom are lawyers. "I felt an obligation to keep the staff intact," she said.She won the election with about 55 percent of the vote.Foulston said a half-dozen of her top assistants were qualified to run the office, but to date only Deputy District Attorney Marc Bennett has expressed an interest in the job. Bennett, a Republican, is the only announced candidate in the race."Any of them could handle the reins of that office without a hitch, and that includes Marc," she said.Foulston said she has no plans to endorse any candidate, and said voters should have the only say in deciding who occupies the office during the upcoming term."You and I both know that hand-picked successors never go anywhere," she said.Before her first race in 1988, Foulston switched parties to become a Democrat, then criticized incumbent Republican District Attorney Clark Owens for his handling of two high-profile murder cases.The cases — the Dec. 30, 1987, slayings of Wichita accountant Phillip Fager and his two daughters, and the New Year's night murder that same week of Wichita State University student Alice Mayfield — both ended in not-guilty jury verdicts. Foulston campaigned on a promise to take high-profile cases into the courtroom herself. She won the election with 60 percent of the vote.In the 1992 election, Foulston defeated Republican challenger Clarence Holeman — a member of Owens' staff who had been fired by Foulston — by a ratio of more than 2-1. She ran unopposed in 1996, 2000 and 2004.Foulston said she has been approached by Democratic Party officials several times over the years about running for another office. She said she was asked often about running for the 4th District seat in Congress, which has been in Republican hands since 1994. She said she never had an interest in that job."I'm not a politician; I'm a prosecutor," she said.During her six terms in office, Foulston has twice appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. Both cases ended with the Court upholding 1994 Kansas laws by 5-4 votes. In June 2006, the Court upheld the state's death penalty. A year later, the Court upheld the state's Sexual Predator law, which allows for the indefinite confinement of some sex offenders for mental health treatment after they have served their criminal sentences.Both cases originated in Sedgwick County District Court.Foulston gained national attention in 2005 for her role in the prosecution of Dennis Rader, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder as he confessed to being the BTK serial killer. She also was in the national spotlight in the fall of 2002 as she prosecuted Reginald and Jonathan Carr, who were convicted and sentenced to death after a crime spree that left five dead.Nearly a decade earlier, in 1994, Foulston was the prosecutor in an equally troubling murder case — the July 30, 1990, abduction, rape and strangulation of 9-year-old Nancy Shoemaker.In those pre-capital punishment days, Doil Lane was convicted of Nancy's murder and given a Hard 40 prison sentence — a sentence of a minimum of 40 years without parole — which at the time was the maximum allowed under Kansas law.Foulston and her husband, Wichita lawyer Steve Foulston, have been married for about 29 years and have a son, Andrew, who is a senior at the University of Kansas. He is majoring in finance with a minor in Chinese, Foulston said, and has expressed no interest in becoming a lawyer.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or

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