Sen. Denton calls for Secretary Miller to resign; Rep. Burch says it's the system at fault

12/19/2011 04:48 PM

Republican state Sen. Julie Denton of Louisville on Monday called for Health Cabinet Secretary Janie Miller to step down in light of what Denton called a culture of “lies” and secrecy.

At the end of a nearly three-hour health and welfare committee meeting Monday, Denton said she thought Gov. Steve Beshear’s Health and Family Services needed a change at the top.

She also criticized Miller and the cabinet’s deputy secretary for not attending the hearing, which dealt with questions about the cabinet’s handling of abuse and neglect of children under the state’s supervision.

“They’re AWOL. I think the attitude of this cabinet has been set by its hierarchy,” Denton said. “I’m tired of lies, I’m tired of deception. I’m tired of the tap-dance routine. I’m tired of the shroud of secrecy. We should be partners, not adversaries.”

But Denton’s House Democratic counterpart, Rep. Tom Burch of Louisville, said he wouldn’t place the blame at Miller’s feet.

“I’m not going to ask for the resignation of Secretary Miller. One is she has a vast background in Medicaid. She’s been insurance commissioner. She’s been secretary of the cabinet. She’s held other responsible positions in state government. She knows the system. She’s also a victim of the system. And we helped make that,” Burch said.

Cabinet officials who did attend the hearing took sharp questions from lawmakers about the annual report about child deaths, which is due each Sept. 1 but wasn’t made public until Dec. 1.

Pat Wilson, who is stepping down as commissioner of community based services that includes oversight of social workers, told lawmakers at the hearing that the delayed report was her fault.

Later in the day, the cabinet announced deputy commissioner Teresa James will serve as interim commissioner.


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