The final portion of a controversial five-part study of the state’s welfare system that’s costing Maine taxpayers $925,200 is due Thursday but, according to state officials, only the first part of the study — due Dec. 1 — has been turned in. Maine has paid the Rhode Island-based Alexander Group more than half of the contract’s value, or $501,760. Republican Gov. Paul LePage and top officials within the Department of Health and Human Services have come under fire for authorizing the no-bid contract with the consulting firm, headed by Gary Alexander, a former public welfare commissioner in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. An effort by the Democratic-led Legislature to revoke the contract failed last month…..
MaineCare expansion study misses first deadline
Source: Scott Thistle, Sun Journal, December 2, 2013
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. …
Editorial: Governor adds pricey consultant to political staff
Source: Sun Journal Editorial Board, November 21, 2013
…Failing to seek bids invariably means paying top dollar for the work to be done. And that’s the first in a series of problems with Gov. Paul LePage’s surprise announcement this week that he has hired a controversial Rhode Island Republican consultant to study our MaineCare system. Garry Alexander of Alexander Associates landed that $925,000 no-bid contract, about half of which must be completed within the next month. And that’s another red flag — how can such a small firm, with only one similar study under its belt, complete such an analysis in four weeks? … Finally, Democrats, including state Sen. Margaret Craven and state Rep. Peggy Rotundo, both of Lewiston, have wondered where LePage is finding nearly $1 million to pay Alexander. … A Sun Journal review of the new contract shows about half the money will come from the state’s General Fund, meaning it will be unavailable for other state priorities. …
Maine hires conservative firm to study Medicaid expansion, bolster welfare efficiency
Source: Mario Moretto, Bangor Daily News, November 19, 2013
The state has contracted a conservative former welfare administrator with a history of slashing benefits to review Maine’s Medicaid system and other welfare programs. The Alexander Group, based in Rhode Island and spearheaded by former Pennsylvania and Rhode Island welfare chief Gary Alexander, will be paid nearly $1 million over eight months for its services, which will include a report on potential costs of expanding Medicaid under terms of the Affordable Care Act. … In addition to studying the long- and short-term costs of Medicaid expansion, the Alexander Group also will work with the Department of Health and Human Services to assess every state welfare program, with an eye toward adding flexibility and efficiency and integrating disparate programs that often benefit the same people. …
…The consulting firm recently completed a similar four-month study in Arkansas, where it recommended across-the-board reductions in spending on welfare and a plan to push state-sponsored health insurance recipients into the private marketplace. Arkansas paid $220,000 for the Alexander Group’s services. When asked why Maine was paying so much more, Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said she couldn’t comment on another state’s dealings but stressed that the work to be undertaken is substantial….
… Meanwhile, Democrats are criticizing Alexander for his controversial record in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, where he most recently served as that state’s welfare chief. There, he hit the same rhetorical notes often struck by LePage and House Republicans, focusing his attention on trimming the welfare rolls and fighting fraud and abuse. They are also lambasting LePage for contracting the company without a public process. Mayhew said in an interview that there was no request for proposals, and that DHHS had gone directly to the Alexander Group to seek out what she said was its unique expertise….
…In January 2012, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that about 88,000 children were cut from Medicaid in the last five months of 2011, which some advocates for the poor claimed should never have happened. Alexander himself was also fodder for the state’s political reporters. He faced criticism for a strict dress code that seemingly mandated women wear skirts or dresses, spending $20,000 for a flagpole while the department cut spending on services, and for taking on a second job while he ran Pennsylvania’s largest department….