KanCare inspector’s background scrutinized

06/02/2014 12:41 PM

06/03/2014 2:23 PM

A former lawmaker appointed to identify fraud in Kansas’ privatized Medicaid system has a background that includes a business bankruptcy and a DUI conviction.

Phil Hermanson, a Republican who resigned from the House in 2013 after 2 1/2 terms, started the $77,000-a-year position as inspector general for the $3 billion-a year KanCare health care network in late April. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which named Hermanson to the job, did not announce his appointment, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Hermanson, 49, also doesn’t have a college degree or career experience in insurance, accounting or health care fields applicable to examining the conduct of clients and service providers interacting with three insurance companies awarded Medicaid contracts by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration.

Hermanson said his preparation for the inspector general’s job came from time in the U.S. Navy and private business, as well as five years in the House, including service on the chamber’s health committee.

He and his wife declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1998 amid closure of their print company, Aeroscreen.

“Like many other small businesses, it didn’t work in the end. It was a challenge I have learned a lot from,” he said.

He won election to the House in 2008. In November 2009, Hermanson rear-ended a car at a red light in Wichita, injuring two women in the other vehicle. He reportedly blamed his faulty driving on prescription medicine taken for an injury. His attorney said in court that the medication was for high blood pressure.

Hermanson pleaded no contest in 2010 to a charge of driving under the influence of prescription drugs and was sentenced to probation.

“Everyone makes mistakes, and I have certainly learned from my mistakes. I continue to move forward,” Hermanson said.

The Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission also fined Hermanson’s campaign treasurer $500 in 2012 for a case involving $3,700 in questionable transactions during his 2010 re-election campaign.

“As I stated at the time,” he said, “I regret the mistake and have learned from it. I promptly paid all fines levied against me in that ruling.”

Rep. David Crum, an Augusta Republican who chairs the joint House-Senate oversight committee on KanCare, endorsed Hermanson as inspector general, but said it would be be “important to follow Phil’s performance closely.”

“He’s had some issues in his past,” Crum said. “I think he’s truly trying to put those behind him. I think Phil will do a good job. He’s very excited about the opportunity. He’s been doing a lot of homework.”

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