TOPEKA – (January 11, 2018) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today nominated Sarah E. Fertig to serve as inspector general for the Kansas Medicaid program.
The attorney general’s office conducted a national search for the position, and Fertig was the candidate recommended to the attorney general by a review committee that considered applications. By law, Fertig may not begin serving as Medicaid inspector general unless and until confirmed by the Kansas Senate. Schmidt today formally transmitted Fertig’s nomination to the Senate for consideration.
A legislative interim committee in 2005 first recommended establishment of an Inspector General’s Office to audit and investigate operations of the Kansas Medicaid program. In 2007, the Legislature created the Office of Inspector General, which initially was attached to the Kansas Health Policy Authority. After the KHPA was abolished in 2011, the inspector general was moved to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. It became less active, and in recent years the position of inspector general remained vacant.
In 2017, the Legislature overhauled the law and placed the OIG under the jurisdiction of the attorney general. Schmidt’s appointment of Fertig is the first step in reestablishing the OIG. By law, the purpose of the OIG is to “establish a full-time program of audit, investigation and performance review to provide increased accountability, integrity and oversight of the state Medicaid program, the state mediKan program and the state children’s health insurance program and to assist in improving agency and program operations and in deterring and identifying fraud, waste, abuse and illegal acts.”
Although the inspector general is under the jurisdiction of the attorney general, the law requires that the inspector general “shall be independent and free from political influence.” The inspector general serves a fixed term of office and may be removed by the attorney general only for cause, such as misconduct.
Schmidt said he has confidence Fertig will lead the Office of Inspector General professionally and independently.
“I have worked with Sarah for several years, and I believe she will be a solid, professional leader who can reestablish the office of inspector general as a helpful contributor to discussions about program operations and management,” Schmidt said. “If the Senate consents to her nomination, I look forward to working with her to establish a professional, independent office of inspector general that can help improve the operations of the state health care programs within the inspector general’s authority.”
For the past six years, Fertig, of Lawrence, has served as an assistant attorney general in the Legal Opinions and Government Counsel Division at Schmidt’s office. Her previous professional experience includes serving as inspector general for the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority and working in the Global Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences Division of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Fertig earned both her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Kansas and is a Certified Inspector General, which is one of the statutory requirements for the inspector general.
If confirmed by the Senate, Fertig will begin the task of rebuilding the Office of Inspector General, which currently has no employees and no office.