KDoA looking at fraud and waste

Agency belt tightening also has brought lay-offs and office consolidation

0 | KDoA

— The Kansas Department of Aging will close its Lawrence office in June when the current lease on the space expires and also is starting new programs to counter fraud and waste as part of agency belt tightening that led to at least a dozen lay-offs earlier this week.

In a statement released today by the agency to KHI News Service, officials said they were working with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to launch new, "program integrity," initiatives aimed at preventing fraud and waste.

That includes implementing an "electronic visit verification system," that would require caregivers to "clock-in" when they provide in-home services to seniors.

Officials said other states with the system had achieved "significant savings."

Agency officials wouldn't confirm how many people were laid off in the last few days, but two former agency employees said 12 workers were given notice on Monday and some were escorted out of the agency's central office by security officers after being given a short time to clear their work spaces.

KDoA Secretary Shawn Sullivan said security officers were not called to escort anyone out.

"We were very considerate and flexible with employees that had positions that were eliminated and gave them all the time they would need to clear out their things," he said in an email. "We also gave them the option of coming back later to take the time they needed. We certainly did not have security officers escort anyone out of the building. We all know this is a difficult time for all involved and have offered much assistance to those affected to assist them with their transition."

Sullivan said those terminated were given until May 27 to remove their things.

At least two of those laid off were members of the state employees' union, according to KOSE Executive Director Jane Carter.

KDoA officials said no nursing home inspectors were let go, "due to our agency's commitment to oversight and inspections of the long-term care industry."

Several vacant positions at the agency also were eliminated including a deputy secretary and two directors.

"I am greatly appreciative of our staff at KDoA for their willingness to do more with less in order to achieve the savings needed to prevent service reductions and waiting lists for our state's seniors," Sullivan said in the statement.

The various cost cutting measure will prevent a waiting list for services in fiscal 2012, which begins July 1, according to agency officials. That assumes, however, that demand for services does not exceed caseload projections.

Sullivan said earlier this year that budget constraints at the agency could lead to lay-offs.