Study misses deadline

AUGUSTA — The first part of a five-part study on Maine's welfare system that had a target due date of Dec. 1 has not been submitted to the state's Department of Health and Human Services, a department spokesman said Monday.

The Alexander Group, the consulting company awarded a nearly $1 million no-bid contract for the study, did not meet the first target date on a part of the study meant to examine the feasibility of expanding Medicaid in Maine, according to John Martins, a spokesman for DHHS. He would not say when the department expected the report.

Gary Alexander, the consulting firm's top executive, previously served as secretary of public welfare for Pennsylvania and held a similar post as secretary of Health and Human Services in Rhode Island. Democrats in those states criticized him for basing welfare reform measures on conservative ideology, and Maine Democrats have questioned the necessity of the study and the process Republican Gov. Paul LePage used to award the contract.

Martins said the company would not be fully paid for the report until it is delivered. Under its contract with the state, the Alexander Group is due to be paid monthly and already should have received three $61,680 payments — one each in September, October and November.

The terms of the contract also allow the state to withhold $70,000 of the first part of the report until it is delivered. The final part of the study is due in May 2014, which is after the legislative session is scheduled to end.

Meanwhile, Martins in an email also noted that the report may be reviewed internally by department officials before it is released to lawmakers and the public.

The $925,000 contract for the study, inked in September, was first made public in late November. Some Democratic state lawmakers on the Legislature's Health and Human Service Committee have voiced concerns about the objectivity of the company involved.

The contract in Maine was offered exclusively to Alexander's firm because, according to Martins, it was "uniquely qualified" to perform the work.

Some Republicans have praised the department's decision to hire the company to review Maine's welfare system.

The company and Alexander, however, have a controversial record, and in November Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a report alleging that "long-term mismanagement" cost the state $7 million. Some of that occurred during Alexander's tenure at the helm of the Department of Public Welfare.

State Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, the Senate chairwoman of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee, said she too would be requesting copies of the reports as soon as they become available.

Craven also voiced frustration over the communications between LePage's administration and the Legislature regarding the study and the contract for the study.

"We invited the department to come and talk to us about the Alexander Group and the report and they have refused to come to us at all," Craven said. "I don't know if Alexander himself is going to come but the department refused to come and speak to us about it."

Attempts to reach Alexander for comment were not successful Monday. LePage's office also did not return requests by phone or email for comment on Monday.

The Alexander Group produced a 92-page, $220,000 report for the Arkansas State Assembly in July reviewing a possible Medicaid expansion in that state.

Among other things that report recommends Arkansas transition to a market-based health insurance system and that it "streamline basic benefit packages for Medicaid recipients."

Craven and state Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, said they were concerned the state was in line to pay by installment nearly $1 million for a study and the company delivering the study had missed its first deadline.

"My understanding is when you have a contract and you have a date, part of the agreement — the legal agreement is that you deliver your report on the date you have promised to deliver your report on," Rotundo said.

Rotundo, the House chairwoman of the Legislature's budget-writing Appropriations Committee, said LePage's administration and DHHS should be focusing on some of the state's crisis-sized problems instead of spending money on another study.

She also again said Alexander was a "crony" of LePage's hired to develop a report that supported the governor's political views in opposition to a Medicaid expansion in Maine.

She said problems at the state hospital for those with violent mental illness, the Riverview Psychiatric Center, and ongoing issues with the state's nonemergency ride program for those on Medicaid were more pressing matters.

"His priorities are truly misplaced," Rotundo said of LePage. "The governor's wasting taxpayer's money hiring this crony while his mismanaged transportation system can't get people to their doctors for (kidney) dialysis."

She also said the reports from the Alexander Group should be made available as soon as the state receives them.

"We are paying $1 million for these reports, I think we would like to know what is in them," Rotundo said.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

Study misses deadline

Scott ? 13.12.07 ? Update ? Sole sourced huh ? Breach of contract ?  Terminate for convenience They should have - at least - submitted a draft . ..
hth. a former federal contract manager for http://.www.usaid.gov and federal ombudsman

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Follow the money and you shall see that Alexander

has political ties with LePage and the GOP.

No contract of any type should go out for non bid. It is unprofessional and dishonest to the taxpayers...

In order to keep the cost at a check and balance approach, the bids should be done with at least three and no less to compare what the taxpayers are getting for the corrupt LePage to give his friends a million dollars and more.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Incompetence

Wouldn't it be nice if the folks who are yammering non-stop about the malfunctioning ACA website had even a little concern for the fact that nothing in our state our federal government is functioning. At least they are trying to fix the website. As for government, the busy termites working to defund and destroy are working more feverishly than ever. They either prevent the appointment of leadership, defund the function of government service or promote people whose goal is to raze the department. Then they complain that government doesn't work so we should defund it. They say the Roman Empire did not fall because of external attacks but rotted from within. It is high time Americans look to make our government stronger and to do that we need a society and a government that functions.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

Well, here we go again.

Well, here we go again. Another Lepage fumble. One million dollars to do what? Guess we won't know for a while. In the meantime, our fearless spender leader can work on his next booklet of "accomplishments."

Jonathan McKane's picture

Rotundo

Peggy Rotundo shouldn't talk about wasting taxpayer money. As a radical left-wing
Democrat and long-term chair of Appropriations, she hold the record.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...