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Bevin Defends 'Adoption Czar' Hire, Medicaid Waiver

AP Photo/Adam Beam
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speaks to reporters with some staff of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services behind him on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says the outgoing state adoption czar, whose contract was terminated after just seven months, performed valuable work despite his short tenure.

In his 2017 State of the Commonwealth Address, Bevin announced the creation of a new position to head reform efforts in the state’s adoption and foster care system. In May, the governor appointed pastor and former executive with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Daniel Dumas.

“We have to rethink the way we do foster care in this state, and Dan Dumas is just the visionary to help lead that charge," Bevin said. "Dan is a servant leader, and his proven track record of excellence in innovation will help us cut through the red tape currently keeping 8,000 of Kentucky’s foster children from their forever families.”

But Bevin's choice for the post is exiting midway through his first year, and leaving behind a controversial $240,000 contract. Add to that a $60,000 buyout on his way out the door. Monday, Bevin explained.

"It seems outrageous, but at the same time this is the nature of these things," he told reporters. "It was so that we were not stuck with a three year, two year, or one year thing even... What he did was valuable."

Bevin said Dumas met with every department of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, along with outside groups, to gather information about how the system currently operates. Dumas’ hiring had drawn fire from critics, who questioned his lack of experience in child welfare or social work.

More than 8,500 Kentucky children are awaiting permanent homes, and Bevin has called the state’s adoption system convoluted and bureaucratic.

Medicaid Waiver Moves Forward

Bevin reported the state is on track to begin phasing in new "community engagement" requirements, including work and volunteer provisions, for some able-bodied Medicaid recipients in July.

The governor sounded confident in the state’s ability to implement the changes, which are the first of their kind in the nation. He also took aim at news stories he claims mislead the public into thinking beneficiaries are losing access to coverage.

"Nobody is being removed from Medicaid," Bevin said. "Nobody's being kicked off or removed or losing access. The access is there. There is now going to be responsibility for able-bodied, working age people with no dependents to do some things, but we can't force them to. This is a free country."

The administration expects 95,000 enrollees to exit the Medicaid rolls within five years – either because they are able to obtain outside health insurance or fail to comply with the new requirements.

But critics argue the waiver creates barriers to coverage and erects a new costly bureaucracy. The left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy estimates the changes could leave nearly 100,000 Kentuckians without coverage once they take effect.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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