Health provider in scandals loses first 3 state contracts

Source: Doug Thompson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 7, 2018

The state began closing down the first three of its 16 contracts with Preferred Family Healthcare on Friday, after a year and a half of scandals that include convictions of four former lawmakers on corruption charges. Preferred Family is a nonprofit behavioral health and substance abuse treatment company. It has 47 locations in Arkansas. The Springfield, Mo., company has $28 million in contracts with the state to provide services ranging from therapy and counseling for foster children to court-ordered drug and alcohol addiction treatment and professional consulting to the state Department of Human Services. In addition, the company received more than $33 million a year through the state Medicaid program. Preferred Family operates in five states. … A U.S. Department of Justice investigation has obtained three guilty pleas and one jury conviction against former Arkansas lawmakers in a multimillion-dollar corruption scheme that started at least as early as 2010. … The state was assured by Preferred Family it had dismissed the company executives involved since the first guilty plea Jan. 4, 2017. Then former Preferred Family executive Robin Raveendran was charged last week, accused of filing $2.3 million in improper Medicaid claims for mental health services. Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the state’s Office of Medicaid Inspector General announced the state would cancel contracts with the company and suspend Medicaid payments to it. …

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Troubled Missouri nonprofit settles wage lawsuit amid federal probe of bribery, kickback scheme
Source: Wesley Brown, Talk Business & Politics, July 1, 2018

During the period when a Missouri healthcare nonprofit was doling out millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to Arkansas lawmakers, public officials and its own well-paid executive team, the troubled healthcare group was fleecing hundreds of lowly paid hourly workers out of overtime pay, according to allegations in a recent federal lawsuit. In early April, Springfield, Mo.-based Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH) agreed upon a tentative settlement with former employee Frances Smith over allegations that PFH and its handful of Arkansas-based affiliates failed to pay the former healthcare worker and other agency employees overtime compensation for working over 40 hours per week, according to pleadings with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. …

Illinois governor profits off ICE detention center contracts

Source: Natasha Korecki, Politico, July 9, 2018
 
Gov. Bruce Rauner this year reported turning a profit from a health care group that services U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, including facilities that hold immigrant families with children.  In his most recent statement of economic interests, the multi-millionaire Republican governor disclosed earnings from a private equity fund that owns Correct Care Solutions, a for-profit health care provider that has millions of dollars in government contracts with jails and prisons across the country, including immigrant detention centers. The governor said he relinquished investment decisions to a third party and has no direct ties to Correct Care Solutions, a group whose work extends to places like Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, one of just four immigrant family detention centers in the country contracted for profit. …

Preferred Care settles for $540,000 in whistleblower upcoding case

Source: Elizabeth Leis Newman, McKnight’s, July 6, 2018

Nursing home chain Preferred Care agreed to settle False Claims Act charges for $540,000, the Department of Justice has announced. Federal officials accused the company of upcoding Medicare beneficiaries between July 2012 and October 2017, and of providing “worthless services” at Kentucky’s Stanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for three years. … Preferred Care, which owns or operates 100 skilled nursing facilities, declared bankruptcy last November. A bankruptcy court approved the settlement on June 26. As part of the settlement, the company does not have to admit to liability. …

Representative Bureaucracy and Government Contracting: A Further Examination of Evidence from Federal Agencies

Source: Benjamin M Brunjes and J Edward Kellough, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, June 2018

Abstract
The theory of representative bureaucracy holds that demographic characteristics of public managers influence policy design and implementation, but only a few studies have been conducted on the impact of representative bureaucracy on contract decisions. This paper contributes to that work by examining the relationship between minority representation in federal agencies and the awarding of agency contracts to minority-owned businesses. Using federal-level employment and contracting data, we determine that variables measuring minority representation overall, the presence of college-educated minorities, and minorities in certain positions related to contract decision-making are all positively correlated with increased numbers of contracts going to minority-owned firms. Our findings build on earlier work and provide additional support for the importance of the theory of representative bureaucracy in a governance system where contracting is common.

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Colyer: Kansas Will Pursue Medicaid Work Rules Despite Court Ruling

Source: Jim McLean, Salina Post, July 3, 2018
 
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer says he will continue to push for a Medicaid work requirement despite a recent court order blocking a similar policy in Kentucky. Last week, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, an Obama appointee in the District of Columbia, questioned whether the Trump administration had adequately considered the consequences of Kentucky’s work requirement before reversing longstanding federal policy to approve it.  Despite the setback, Colyer said his administration will continue discussions with federal officials about requiring some of the more than 420,000 Kansans enrolled in KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to work or pursue job training. …

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Kansas chooses 3 companies to manage Medicaid
Source: Associated Press, June 22, 2018
 
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has awarded new contracts to three insurance companies to manage the state’s privatized Medicaid program.  Two of the new contracts announced Friday are renewals for companies currently in the program, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc. and United Healthcare Midwest Inc. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that the third contract went to a company new to the program, Aetna Better Health of Kansas Inc….

KanCare Contractor Must Fix Backlog Problems Soon Or Face Fines
Source: Jim McLean, KCUR, May 30, 2018
 
The company that processes applications for Kansas’ privatized KanCare Medicaid program faces potentially steep fines if it doesn’t fix problems, responsible for massive backlogs, by the end of this week. Maximus, a Maryland-based company that specializes in managing “human service programs” for states and the federal government, has operated the “KanCare Clearinghouse” since 2016. There have been problems from the start. In March 2016, federal officials grew concerned about growing backlogs and ordered the state to provide monthly reports about what it was doing to fix the problem. …

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Kentucky Reviewing State Contract After Bribery Trial 

Source: Adam Beam, Associated Press, June 25, 2018 
 
An Illinois-based company’s million-dollar contract with Kentucky could be in trouble after one of its executives testified it paid a state lobbyist on a “success basis” during a federal bribery trial earlier this month.  Kentucky pays Cannon Cochran Management Services Inc. about $1 million a year to manage the state’s workers compensation claims. The company won the contract in 2005 under former Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher and has kept it ever since.  State officials recently renewed the contract for another two years. But that was before Jerry Armatis, CCMSI’s executive vice president for sales, testified during James Sullivan’s federal bribery trial last week in Lexington. Armatis said how much money they paid Sullivan’s consulting firm depended on whether the company won a state contract… But state law bans lobbyists from being paid in this way….

Sharon eyeing cafeteria change

Source: Quinn Schwartz, The Herald, June 20, 2018
 
Sharon City Board of Education met in front of a packed house Monday night, with most in attendance to show support for the district’s cafeteria workers as their representatives continue to negotiate their futures as district employees. Effective July 1, the school district enters into an agreement with The Nutrition Group, a food service management company based in Irwin, Westmoreland County. … Representatives of the district’s cafeteria utility workers worried how the presence of the food management company would affect their current employment status, since the district is considering outsourcing the cafeteria jobs. … “The employees, at this point, are Sharon school district employees,” Calla said. “And they will remain so until there is a resolution with the AFSCME bargaining agreement, which we have been negotiating since January 2017.” …

Bill to Privatize Providence Water Raises Objections

Source: Tim Faulkner, Eco RI News, June 11, 2018
 
Drawing comparisons to Flint, Mich., and other cities that have suffered from privatizing public water systems, environmentalists oppose the latest legislative effort to monetize the Providence Water Supply Board and its source, the Scituate Reservoir.  The Conservation Law Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Rhode Island Land Trust Council and Audubon Society of Rhode Island all raised doubts about changing ownership of the state’s largest public water source. Without protection, the move threatens open-space land buffers and risks polluting the watershed and public drinking water, according to opponents of the idea.  Mayor Jorge Elorza recently made the annual mayoral Statehouse plea to monetize the city’s public water system and real estate worth some $400 million — all to pay down Providence’s unfunded pension liability. …

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Providence to look at sale of water system
Source: By Daniel Barbarisi, Providence Journal (RI), Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The city is considering selling the Providence Water Supply Board and the network of reservoirs and treatment plants it controls in order to pay down the huge debt in the city’s pension system.

…… The money from a sale would be used to pay off the debt to the city’s pension system, which is owed roughly $700 million.

Unions try to thwart $250M Southampton hospital project

Source: Aidan Gardiner, The Real Deal, June 12, 2018
 
Three unions — the Civil Service Employees Association, New York State United Teachers and the Public Employees Federation — are trying to block state legislation necessary to build a $250 million hospital on Stony Brook’s Southampton’s campus, 27 East reported. The unions don’t like the plan for operating the hospital once it’s built, saying that the majority of the employees would not be subject to civil service laws. The legislation, which needs to be voted on before the legislature closes on June 20, would allow Stony Brook to lease the property to the nonprofit Southampton Hospital Association, which would then raise the money to build the hospital. …

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State Unions Throw Up Roadblock To Key Bill Clearing The Way For New Hospital In Southampton
Source: Joseph P. Shaw, 27 East, June 8, 2018
 
State unions are working to block legislation to clear the way for Stony Brook Southampton Hospital to begin raising money for a new facility on the college campus, apparently concerned about the potential future impact on the workers they represent. … But a trio of state unions representing workers at hospitals like Stony Brook University Hospital, which is owned and operated by the State University of New York system, have formally opposed the legislation, worried that it might be an attempt to move jobs from the public sector to the private sector. At issue is the unusual arrangement at the heart of plans for the new hospital, a key to the affiliation agreement between the former Southampton Hospital and the Stony Brook system that was finalized less than a year ago, according to Mr. Chaloner. … Three state unions—the Civil Service Employees Association, New York State United Teachers and the Public Employees Federation—issued a memo strongly opposing the legislation. Their concerns, Mr. Chaloner said, are rooted in the fact that Southampton Hospital was a private entity, and its workers remain represented by a different union focusing on the private sector, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. …

Hell on Wheels

Source: Kiera Feldman, ProPublica, June 4, 2018
 
Even in the bruising, often chaotic world of New York’s nighttime trash collection, Sanitation Salvage cuts a distinctively brutish profile. Its role in Diallo’s death — and, in April, the death of an elderly Bronx man run down while crossing the street with a cane — has set off a firestorm for the company as well as the city agency that oversees the commercial trash industry.  An investigation by Voice of America and ProPublica, drawing on thousands of pages of public documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former workers, depicts a workplace environment in which concerns about safety, as well as workers’ rights and compensation, are flouted despite years of complaints from workers to regulators.  Records show that more than three-quarters of Sanitation Salvage trucks have been ordered off the road after federal safety checks. Yet the company has paid lobbyists to fight local legislation that backers say would compel haulers to improve on working conditions and safety. …