TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and several top administration officials sought to dispel doubts about his plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid program, declaring Thursday that the planned summertime reorganization of three government departments will improve services for the poor, disabled and elderly.

The conservative Republican governor plans to turn over management of the entire $2.9 billion-a-year Medicaid program next year to three private companies. Before then, in July, the state will reorganize its departments of Aging, Health and Environment and Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Brownback, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and the three agencies' secretaries had a Statehouse news conference to publicize the coming reorganization, which will consolidate programs providing long-term care for both the elderly and disabled into one agency. The reorganization also will eliminate 10 administrative jobs and permit SRS to focus on services for families and children.

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