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Kentucky Health Secretary Outlines Spending Cuts

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Sergey Kuzmin
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Kentucky’s new health secretary says her state agency will meet proposed budget reductions through a variety of cost-cutting measures like not filling vacant positions and cutting back on travel. Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, who heads up the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said Wednesday that implementing the cuts allows her to have a “clean look” at the cabinet’s programs and services. “It does give us an opportunity to evaluate areas that certainly haven’t been delivering a satisfactory return on investment,” she says.

Under Governor Bevin’s proposed spending cuts, the cabinet’s budget will be cut by $64 million over the next two years and $31 million this year. The largest portion of cuts—nearly $34 million over the next two years and $16 million this year--will take place in the cabinet’s Community Based Services department. The department manages the state’s foster care system, food stamp program, domestic violence and rape crisis centers and income assistance program. 

Louisville Democratic Representative Mary Lou Marzian is skeptical that $64 million in proposed cuts to the cabinet won’t reduce services. “To try to make up this with reducing travel, it just seems a bit…$64 million is a heck of a lot of money, I think we need a lot more specifics and how is this going to affect services to our most vulnerable folks,” she says.

The health cabinet’s largest expense—Medicaid—is exempt from the proposed cuts. But other statewide programs ranging from public health departments to mental health institutions will be on the chopping block.

Lawmakers have until April 13th to pass a budget.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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