Tag Archives: Kansas
Finally, the wait is over. The Obama Administration has tapped Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, for the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius, if you remember, was an early supportor of President Obama and also a possible vice-presidential choice for a while. Governor Sebelius, currently in the middle of her second term, will only serve the Secretary position and not pick up the new White House Office of Healthcare Reform position Daschle had previously negotiated for himself.
+ Eight years experience as Kansas’s insurance commissioner, helping draft a “bill of rights for patients and blocked the sale of Blue Cross and Blue Shield to an out-of-state company because it would have raised premiums” (New York Times).
+ Six years as governor managing a state Medicaid program (New York Times).
+ A record of reaching across the aisle and a very helpful addition to the Obama administration in that sense, especially when the parties are so divided on health care.
+ Served as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners — understanding the insurance system is probably critical to understanding health care.
+ Personally believes abortion is wrong, but has vetoed abortion regulations on legal or policy grounds.
+ Health care was the one issue she really couldn’t “bridge the gap.” Tried to raise cigarette tax to fund health care — failed, because of Republican legislature. Proposed universal health care system, nothing came to fruit.
+ A lot of people want Sebelius to run for Sam Brownback’s (R-KS) Senate seat in 2010. Many thought she would be Democrat who “break” the Republican trend in her state.
+ Anti-abortion activists will be fighting this tooth and nail. The archbishop of Kansas City already refused her communion on the basis of her abortion views. The Catholic League called her an â€œenemy of the unbornâ€ and will fight her nomination.
I really don’t know much else about her to determine whether or not she is indeed a good pick for HHS. Any thoughts?
The United States has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of its prisoners, half of which are reoffenders. 1 out of every 32 Americans will spend time in jail, and half of them will return within three years. Sound counter-effective to you? It does to the lawmakers in Kansas, who just passed a comprehensive bill to change the prison system detailed in this BBC article. The legislature made these changes because of budget cuts. Prisons were draining the state budget, and legislators wanted to find a way to spend more effectively. Roger Werholtz, the secretary of corrections in Kansas, argues that for years the public has dealt with criminals emotionally, and criticizing any effort to help prisoners as “soft on crime.”
“We are mad at them, frightened by them, frustrated by them, and so our typical response has been very punitive, …locking people up is only a temporary solution since more than 95% of prisoners will eventually be released into the community”
The bill changes the way parole works, making parole workers more social workers than policemen. In 2006, two-thirds of prisoners were in jail because they violated parole. Now, parole officers work with prisoners for job placement and transition from prison to civilian life. The program works, too-five years ago around 203 parolees returned to Kansas prisons each month but by 2007, the number was reduced by 100 per month and the number of new crimes – felony convictions that people pick up while they are on parole supervision- were nearly cut in half. Michigan needs to learn from Kansas and pass its own prison reform bill, emphsizing rehabilitation over punishment.Â It may be criticized as a “hug-a-thug” policy, but it saves money, and improves the quality of life for prisoners and the popoulation as a whole.