Source: Muncie Star Press (IN), May 19, 2008
The state’s experiment with the privatization of the welfare system is seriously flawed. The 500 people who showed up for a town hall meeting in Muncie last week is ample evidence, as are the dozens of letters and calls from desperate families to local newspapers after losing their Medicaid and food stamp benefits.
That’s not to mention the local social service agencies and food banks that say they are strained by a massive increase in need.
Source: By NICK WERNER, Star Press (IN), May 14, 2008
A Tuesday town hall meeting for area residents to vent frustration over the state’s new welfare-delivery system drew a crowd of about 500. What the crowd suggested about the new system’s effectiveness became a subject of debate among those who support it and those who don’t.
……. Indiana began privatizing welfare delivery last fall in a pilot program that involved a dozen central and eastern Indiana counties, including Delaware County.
…… Since the transition, however, social service agencies have reported an increase in complaints from people who have lost their food stamps and Medicaid health care coverage.
Source: Jason Embry, AMERICAN-STATESMAN, Tuesday, May 06, 2008
A move in Congress to limit the role of private firms in doling out food stamps is dead for now, allowing Texas to move forward with its privatization plans.
U.S. House and Senate negotiators voted late last week against including a privatization ban in a $300 billion farm bill that lawmakers hope to finish this week. The ban would have prevented states from allowing employees of private companies to interact with people who are applying for food stamps or to decide someone’s eligibility.
…… Last year, Texas canceled what was originally a five-year, $899 million contract with Accenture LLP to run call centers enrolling people in services. But the state did not altogether abandon its plan for private call centers, which state officials say can save money and give Texans more ways to apply for services, instead of just in person.
Source: By ROBERT T. GARRETT, The Dallas Morning News (TX), Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The state, to relieve overworked eligibility screeners, will suspend for the rest of the year interviews its workers usually have to conduct with food stamp recipients every six months, officials said Monday.
…… The state has been scrambling to rebuild its eligibility-screening workforce and improve performance at four privately run call centers after the disastrous 2006 launch of a partly privatized system of social program signups.
Source: By ROBERT T. GARRETT, The Dallas Morning News (TX), Monday, April 7, 2008
Lawmakers are worried that a partly privatized system for determining who receives public assistance is still shaky and may not be salvageable. Paperwork for applicants has been lost. Needy Texans have received little help from state workers when they’ve complained of mistakes. And all too often, Texans who should qualify for state-paid health care and other benefits have been refused because of such errors.
…… The problems could also distract Texas officials as they separately seek to overhaul Medicaid, the nation’s main health care program for the poor.
Source: By Corrie MacLaggan, AMERICAN-STATESMAN (TX), Sunday, March 23, 2008
First thing Thursday morning, a dozen new state caseworkers arrived at a North Austin office building for a training class on enrolling Texans in the food stamp and Medicaid programs. Just a couple of months into their jobs, one after another said they’re excited about helping people and confident they can handle the work. But if history is any guide, eight of them will be gone by fall. Employees overwhelmed by their workload are leaving the Health and Human Services Commission in droves.
….. Some of the agency’s staffing problems date to fall 2005, when Hawkins informed 2,900 eligibility workers that they would not have a job after the start of a privatization plan. The agency hired Accenture LLP to run call centers to enroll Texans in benefits. After a troubled pilot program in Central Texas in 2006, the state parte
Source: Associated Press (IN), Monday March 17, 2008
State officials say the rollout of the state’s new privatized welfare system is going well enough to expand it to a large swath of southern and western Indiana.
Some advocates for the needy warn, beware.
…… A coalition of vendors led by IBM Corp. and Affiliated Computer Services Inc. operates the project’s service center in Marion. Call response times once as high as 9 1/2 minutes have fallen to two to four minutes since the phone staff was doubled to about 80 in mid-January, Main said.
Source: By Jason Embry and Corrie MacLaggan, AMERICAN-STATESMAN, Monday, February 04, 2008
In a direct response to problems in Texas, Congress is considering new limits on the role that private companies can play in states’ public assistance programs. A provision in a major farm bill approved by the U.S. House would bar states from allowing employees of private firms to interact with people who are applying for food stamps or to decide someone’s eligibility for the program. The measure could force Texas to rework its plans to privatize food stamp enrollment.
……. In 2007, Texas canceled what was originally a five-year, $899 million contract with Accenture LLP to run call centers enrolling people in services. But the state did not abandon its plans for private call centers.
Source: By David Haldane, Los Angeles Times (CA), January 24, 2008
A contract Orange County employee who worked with welfare recipients was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing more than $300,000 from the county, authorities said.
……. At the time of the alleged crimes — from 2005 to 2007 — Gonzalez was a supervisor for Arbor Education and Training, an independent company contracted to provide services including financial assistance for housing and basic needs.
Source: By Michelle Sheldone, TCPalm.com (FL), Tuesday, January 15, 2008
PORT ST. LUCIE — The Port St. Lucie center that helps manage the state’s affordable health insurance program for children plans to remain in the area for another three months.
Call center employees with Policy Studies Inc. enroll and re-enroll participants in the state’s Florida KidCare program, which is designed for ages 5 through 18 and administered by the public-private Florida Healthy Kids Corp.
Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services was scheduled to take over the service by Feb. 1, but Affiliated Computer Services underestimated the work effort and experienced staff turnover, according to an Affiliated Computer Services letter excerpt that Florida Healthy Kids representatives provided.