Editorial: Privatization not a solution – Lawrence Journal World

State legislators must be cautious of plans to attempt to privatize the state’s psychiatric hospital.

Final week, Tim Keck, secretary of the Kansas Division for Growing old and Incapacity Providers, which manages the Osawatomie State Hospital, stated the hospital has change into too difficult for the state to handle. Keck and others argued that the state ought to construct a new facility after which contract with a for-revenue company to run it.

The hospital close to Kansas Metropolis has been in operation since 1866. Lots of the campus buildings had been constructed previous to 1950. Essentially the most fashionable constructing was constructed within the 1980s. The amenities are insufficient and the hospital faces a variety of different points, together with workers shortages. It's licensed for greater than 200 beds, however due to the staffing points, the hospital has restricted its affected person inhabitants to 150 beds since 2015. In 2015, the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Providers decertified the hospital.

Keck stated the deficiencies are being corrected however long run, the state wants a new strategy. Estimates are that it could value $175 million to switch the present amenities. After that, Keck and others advocate hiring Appropriate Care of Nashville, Tenn., to function the hospital. Keck stated KDADS will search legislative approval for the privatization plan in the course of the 2018 session.

The issue with Keck’s plan is that, on the floor, it could look like costlier to pay a for-revenue firm to function the hospital than for the state to function it as a nonprofit. It isn’t clear how hiring an out of doors contractor addresses the persistent staffing points that the Osawatomie facility faces.

The dearth of beds on the state hospital has positioned stress on Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Bert Nash Group Psychological Well being Middle to deal with psychiatric sufferers till they are often transferred to the state hospital. Russell Johnson, CEO at LMH, and Patrick Schmitz, CEO at Bert Nash, each are skeptical of privatization.

“My sense of it's that (privatizing) isn’t going to essentially deal with the sensible limitation of funding in behavioral and psychological well being, both at Osawatomie or extra broadly,” stated Russell Johnson, CEO at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. “So I don’t perceive what that basically solves, apart from it strikes the issue out from a governmental oversight and into a personal oversight that’s going to be in the end accountable to the state anyway.”

The state’s efforts at privatization haven’t all the time gone nicely up to now. State Sen. Laura Kelly, the rating Democrat on the Senate Public Well being and Welfare Committee, famous that the state’s efforts to denationalise its Medicaid program have led to a host of issues.

There's a sense of urgency to deal with the problems on the Osawatomie facility. However turning over the operation to a for-revenue firm doesn’t remedy the issue; it merely shifts the burden of duty. Sufferers in want of psychological well being providers and their households deserve higher.

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Editorial: Privatization not a solution - Lawrence Journal World