Maine Democrats craft bill to cancel $925,000 welfare study

AUGUSTA — Democrats on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee introduced a bill Monday that would cancel a nearly $1 million contract signed by Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration with a controversial welfare consultant, the Alexander Group.

In September 2013, the LePage administration contracted with the group, headed by former Pennsylvania and Rhode Island welfare chief Gary Alexander, to review Maine’s welfare system. Since then, Democrats have leveled a series of criticisms at Alexander based on his conservative ideology.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew called the bill introduced Monday by Democrats “a blatant attempt by partisan lawmakers to discredit a thorough and accurate report from a national Medicaid expert that does not support their political position on Medicaid expansion.”

The bill, which hasn’t been printed and does not yet appear on the Legislature’s website, is being proposed by the Democratic co-chairs of the Health and Human Services Committee. The state has already paid the Alexander Group $185,040 toward the $925,000 contract, according to the Office of Fiscal and Program Review.

“This is just one more in a tragic series of management errors from Gov. LePage that is costing Maine taxpayers lots of money with little positive outcome,” said Rep. Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland, the House chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, in a written statement. “This kind of mismanagement has got to come to an end and this is where we need to start.”

House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, in a written statement accused Democrats of using the issue to campaign in advance of elections later this year.

“This is what one pundit was talking about when he said Democrats would simply use the Legislature as ‘a soapbox to campaign against the governor’ this year,” said Fredette, referring to a December 2013 article by BDN blogger Matthew Gagnon. “Instead of scoring political points, Democrats should help us find solutions to the countless fiscal and economic problems caused by their decades of one-party rule.”

The Alexander Group released the first phase of its study, a treatise on Medicaid expansion, in January, and is expected to provide other reports on Maine’s welfare program in the coming weeks and months. The study is controversial for many reasons, beginning with the fact that the LePage administration did not use a bid process to award the contract. Then, when the Alexander Group delivered the first phase of the study to DHHS, the administration refused to release it to the public while it was being revised.

The study concludes that expanding Medicaid eligibility, a legislative priority for Democrats, would cost the state $807 million in its first 10 years. An analysis by AARP indicated that the study was flawed and contained a $575 million calculation error in projecting future growth of Medicaid costs, although Gary Alexander said the figures were sound.

Democrats said part of their reasoning for trying to cancel the contract is that the outstanding contract payments could be used to help fill a budget hole in the fiscal year that ends June 30.

“The Alexander report fiasco is yet another example of Gov. LePage’s pattern of mismanagement,” said Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, who is the Senate chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee. “His failure to lead and inability to manage are hurting Maine people and Maine’s economy.”

Mayhew took issue with Craven’s statement.

“To portray this bill as an attempt to save the Maine taxpayer money is disingenuous and misrepresentative,” said Mayhew. “There are many additional elements associated with the overall cost of the contract, which when reviewed in totality and compared to other contracts, offer value.”

While leading Rhode Island’s welfare system, Alexander received from former President George W. Bush’s administration a global Medicaid waiver that conservatives have hailed as a means of gaining greater flexibility in managing publicly funded healthcare programs. Mayhew said the consultant’s mission is to find similar benefits for Maine.

“The Alexander Group’s track record on these areas of reform is unsurpassed, especially in helping states gain flexibility within Medicaid in order to use resources to address the unmet needs of those who are elderly, disabled and the state’s most vulnerable,” Mayhew said. “We look forward to our continued relationship with the Alexander Group through the completion of work under this contract.”

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Maine Democrats craft bill to cancel $925,000 welfare study

The no bid contract was a scam,+waste of tax payer dollars!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

What is highly disturbing

Mayhew and LePage take a recognized exposed consultant that has provided flawed reports. These two yahoos' base an entire state, thousands of peoples lives based upon ONE report.

Now had we used money mangers or Actuarial consultants advice at 100% with no other RFP's from others or identical investigative reports from others to compare, we would of been declared incompetent and unreliable for overseeing as Trustees.

To diligently serve the people, more than one report, from an outsourced agency, particularly from a biased company is highly disturbing, highly questionable and needs to be thoroughly questioned and looked into for giving $925 K for a debunked report, to a hired hit-man for the right.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Mayhews savior?

The more I read Mayhew's statements concerning Alexander's credentials and accomplishments the more I find her to be a total incompetent.
As I've stated before in this forum, the "Global Waiver", she is referring to, was nothing more then a sweetheart deal worked out by Bush II and the Gov. of R.I. based on inflated healthcare cost. Something that would never work between Lepage and Obama considering the ACA is now law.
"His track record is unsurpassed". WHAT A BUNCH OF B.S.. His track record is this: what he did for Arkansas cost $225,000 and was a total waste of their tax dollars and what he did in Pa. got his, and his associates, asses FIRED! This is Alexander's track record and legacy.
Alexander's report ,thus far, is as full of holes as a piece of Swiss cheese and already shows his incompetence and political cronyism.
Lepage and Mayhew should be facing a federal instigation for abuse of federal funds in this matter and destruction of CDC documents.
Apparently these two are not aware they are accountable to the people of Maine and not above the law or they're just plain stupid.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

It would appear..........

It would appear that the number of inept State employees climbing up on the band wagon in favor of this Alexander guy is growing. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see whats going on here. It's funny that Mary Mayhew feels the Democrats are using this as a "soap box" to campaign against the Governor. When in fact the Governor is using this joker as a catalyst to validate his own pipe dreams.
Paul LePage is so far off base with his views on Medicaid expansion, he needed to hire an outside entity just to back up his own ideas on the subject. Spending $185,000 right out of the TANF account to help fund this study, is at the very least unethical. Imagine, stealing from the neediest among us just to help shut the door on health insurance for the very same people. I would love to hear LePages ideas on replacing the pilfered money. If in fact he ever intended to replace the funds. I can only assume he intended to repay that $185,000 out of his own pocket. which is where the funding for this whole scam should have come from in the first place.
I'm just curious as to what legal or ethical line does LePage need to cross before it's considered a crime. He seems to be getting quite a few free passes lately..........................

AL PELLETIER's picture

Lepage should understand this.

Marden's always takes back defective merchandise and gives a full refund.
I applaud Senator Craven for attempting to stop Lepage's foolishness.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Keep in mind

Repubs like LePage are use to working in concert with crooks, so LePage gave Alexander a deal out by the loading dock doors, by the dumpster.

AL PELLETIER's picture

That's funny, Jerry

Years ago I was a Marden's store mgr. in Westbrook and caught one of my employees hiding a VCR under the dumpster by the loading dock to be picked up after store hours. I fired him on the spot. Sure wish firing Lepage was that easy.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Sure wish firing Lepage was that easy?

It is. LePage has already fired himself and still hasn't figured it out yet!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Stuffing

LePage under the dumpster or into, is a better image.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Tthey have the receipt and seller

Return the flawed product for damages, that is a piece of junk, it saves the taxpayers money.

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