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Health

Kansas Lawmaker Leary Of Plans To Privatize Osawatomie

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Phil Cauthon
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KHI News Service/File photo

A Democratic candidate for Kansas governor says the Brownback administration is bent on privatizing a key mental health facility.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has unveiled a proposal to build a new mental hospital at Osawatomie, which a Tennessee company would run.

But Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward says the agency should be exploring in-house options.

"This administration has a terrible history of privatization. Whether it be child support collection, DCF, KanCare,” Ward says.

KDADS Secretary Tim Keck says the private operator would bring expertise and the ability to recruit mental health professionals. But, he says, his department is keeping an open mind.

“I want to improve Osawatomie, I’ve made up my mind about that. How we do that has not been finalized,” Keck says.

KDADS will need to provide options to lawmakers next year. That’s required before proceeding with any plan.

Keck will make a presentation on the Osawatomie proposal in Wichita on Thursday at 1 p.m. It’s open to the public and will take place at the Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization at 615 N. Main.