TOPEKA &mash; Kansas lawmakers want to know whether a suburban Kansas City nonprofit used its political connections to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to get a special funding increase last fall.
But a hearing into the matter Wednesday left lawmakers with more questions than answers.
Community Living Opportunities, based in Lenexa in suburban Johnson County, was awarded nearly $713,000 in extra Medicaid funds. The group serves developmentally disabled Kansans, primarily in Johnson and Douglas counties.
At the time, the agency's board of directors included Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates, a Sebelius confidant, and his former law partner, Dan Biles, whom Sebelius appointed to the state Supreme Court this year. Lew Perkins, the University of Kansas athletic director, also serves on the board. Biles has since stepped down from the board.
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The allegations come as Sebelius, a Democrat, awaits U.S. Senate confirmation to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicaid.
Neither Sebelius nor Gates was at the hearing Wednesday. But Sebelius has said she had nothing to do with the funding decision, which was made by Don Jordan, her secretary of social and rehabilitation services. Gates also has denied speaking to Sebelius about the funding request.
Yet other service providers maintain that the state told them no extra funding was available. They told lawmakers at the hearing Wednesday that Community Living Opportunities was allowed to skip the usual process of requesting extra funds, which involves going before a local agency that oversees such requests.
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