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State Nursing Contracts Questioned

From Kentucky Public Radio's Tony McVeighKentucky lawmakers are questioning the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars for contract nurses at state mental health facilities.Members of a legislative oversight panel want to know why the state is paying several outside hiring agencies $172 million to provide nurses at state mental health facilities. Beth Jurek of Health and Family Services says the state has little choice, because it has to compete with the private sector."A lot of those private hospitals are paying signing bonuses and those kinds of things that we don’t have the mechanism to do through the state personnel system," Jurek said.But the Government Contract Review committee wants more answers and voted unanimously for the State Auditor and another oversight committee to review the state’s two-year contracts with hiring agencies in Louisville and Atlanta.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.