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SPOTLIGHT
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Published on -6/5/2014, 10:09 AM

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Guess who's been hired as inspector general for the privatized KanCare health care network for the state of Kansas?

If you thought the person responsible for finding fraud in the $3 billion annual Medicaid system would have some experience in accounting, health care or insurance -- or at least a college degree in one of those fields, you would be incorrect. If you thought the person would have no bankruptcies or DUIs on his record, you likewise would be incorrect.

But Phil Hermanson, who was rather silently appointed to the position a few weeks ago, does have connections. The Republican from Wichita served in the Kansas House of Representatives for five years until resigning his seat last year halfway through his term. Not that his stint there was trouble-free. While in office, the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission fined his campaign treasurer for transactions during Hermanson's first re-election effort.

If this newly appointed bureaucrat is uniquely qualified for the job, it doesn't appear on his resume. We would hazard a guess Hermanson passed Gov. Sam Brownback's litmus test for loyalty, thereby eliminating the need for any other prerequisites or competencies that would make the job easier.

The new KanCare IG does join a growing pantheon of questionable appointments in Topeka since our current governor took office.

Who can forget former state Budget Director Steve Anderson, whose $2 billion mathematical error allowed Brownback to tout what turned out to be a bogus economic recovery?

Or Rob Siedlecki, former secretary of the Kansas Department for Social and Rehabilitation Services who dismantled the department before high-tailing it back to Florida?

Remember Jim Mann, the state's chief information technology officer who didn't last a day because it was discovered he had a degree from an online diploma mill?

Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee was forced out of office after repeatedly shunning labor groups and workers in favor of corporate interests.

Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman lobbied so hard for corporate farmers that family farm groups ensured he moved on.

Securities Commissioner Aaron Jack had myriad controversies before leaving office. Kansas Corporation Commission Chairman Mark Sievers resigned shortly after the agency was fined for violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Of all the School Efficiency Task Force members Brownback assembled, only one had either teaching or school administrative experience.

Who can forget all the applicants who tried to get on the Kansas Court of Appeals? Oops, we never found out who they were. The only person the governor admitted interviewing was the person awarded the job: Caleb Stegall, Brownback's attorney.

In Hermanson, we likely have another high-ranking, well-paid administrator whose primary qualification is being liked by the governor.

As Rep. David Crum, R-Augusta, told the McClatchy-Tribune News Service, it will be "important to follow Phil's performance closely."

And Crum even has faith in Hermanson's potential.

We don't share the sentiment. In fact, we would guess the new inspector general will not last long. We just hope the KanCare system isn't rife with the very fraud he's supposed to uncover. That is a tough task for somebody with no relevant experience.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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