New Haven Housing Authority restructuring for private investment

Source: Mary E. O’Leary, New Haven Register, January 2, 2018
 
The Housing Authority of New Haven will start issuing layoff notices on Friday as it restructures, but said there will be opportunities to seek similar jobs under a new nonprofit company it has formed.  A total of 50 people at the authority will be affected throughout 2018, according to the authority, but it plans to hire between 40 and 45 people for similar positions in a restructuring it said is needed to ensure its financial stability. … The authority already has one affiliate, the Glendower Group, which oversees its construction projects. It now has formed a second nonprofit affiliate, 360 Property Management Co., which eventually will oversee the maintenance and security of 1,300 housing units, as well as handle leasing. … DuBois-Walton said the new jobs, which are almost one for one with the current positions, will reflect private market salaries, which will be less than those negotiated by the two American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees locals representing workers. …

 Boca-based prison operator Geo Group to pay $550,000 to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

Source: Marcia Heroux Pounds, Sun Sentinel, January 8, 2018
 
Boca Raton-based The Geo Group has agreed to pay $550,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Arizona’s attorney general.  The lawsuit, filed in 2010, concerned two Geo-operated prisons: the Central Arizona Correctional Facility and Arizona State Prison-Florence West Facility, both in Florence, Ariz. …. The lawsuits, filed in the in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleged that GEO retaliated against female employees who complained or sought help by disciplining them, forcing them to quit, firing them, or placing them in unsafe conditions in the prison. ….

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Private Prison GEO Group to Pay $60,000 To Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment And Retaliation Lawsuit
Source: EEOC Press Release, August 25, 2017
 
The GEO Group, Inc., operator of the Central Arizona Correctional Facility (CACF) in Florence, Ariz., will pay $60,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.  According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, GEO allowed its employees and managers to sexually harass Roberta Jones since June 2007. For example, the agency alleged that certain male superior officers and coworkers would frequently stand around bragging about their sexual exploits. At least two superior officers were alleged to have put their hands on Jones in an unwanted manner. GEO failed to adequately respond to Jones’s complaints of sexual harassment, the EEOC said. The lawsuit also alleged that Geo assigned Ms. Jones to less desirable posts, disciplined, and terminated her after she complained about the harassment and participated in protected activity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. …

Florence Private Prison GEO Group Sued a Second Time by EEOC for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), September 25, 2015

The GEO Group, Inc., operators of the Central Arizona Correctional Facility in Florence, Ariz., violated federal law by sexually harassing a female correctional officer and then retaliating against her for having participated in a prior lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against GEO alleging systemic sexual harassment, EEOC charged in a lawsuit it filed today. According to EEOC’s lawsuit, GEO allowed its employees and managers to sexually harass Roberta Jones since June 2007. …

America’s Rural Hospitals Are Dangerously Fragile

Source: Brian Alexander, The Atlantic, January 9, 2018

… Last November, however, Circleville’s voters chose another direction, one that, in other places, has resulted in an economic hit to the community—mostly in the form of job losses and stagnant wages—as well as a lowered quality of care. At the urging of city and county leaders, and Berger’s administrators, residents voted to allow local politicians and the hospital’s board to begin a process to turn Berger, one of the last publicly owned and operated hospitals in the state, into a nonprofit private corporation. Following that, Berger would most likely be integrated into a larger regional system, probably the Columbus-based nonprofit Ohio Health, with which Berger has an ongoing relationship. …
 
… Hospitals have been struggling—especially independent public and/or nonprofit hospitals located in smaller cities and rural towns. Last year, for example, the National Rural Health Association, a nonprofit, estimated that 673 rural facilities (with a variety of ownership structures) were at risk of closure, out of over 2,000. And with the new tax legislation, and events like the merger of the drugstore chain CVS and the insurer Aetna, the turmoil looks to get worse. In response, stand-alone nonprofit hospitals have been auctioning off their real estate to investors, selling themselves to for-profit chains or private-equity firms, or, like Berger, folding themselves into regional health systems. …

Metro gets serious about outsourcing Silver Line service

Source: Martine Powers, Washington Post, January 9, 2018
 
A proposal to outsource operations of the Silver Line took a significant step Monday, when Metro officials issued a formal “request for information” from potential contractors who might be interested in the job. …. Metro’s opportunities for privatization are limited, because of its existing union contracts. But the agency is allowed to seek help from outside contractors when considering how to manage operations on new segments of the system. Officials have already met with potential contractors to outsource bus operations and maintenance at the newly-constructed Cinder Bed Road bus garage in Newington, Va…..

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D.C. May Seek To End Private Contracts For Public Transit
Source: Martin Di Caro, WAMU, November 30, 2017

A coalition of organized labor and social justice groups are calling on D.C. lawmakers to stop the District from contracting out public transit services, saying the private firms that operate the Circulator bus system and D.C. Streetcar fail to provide reliable service to riders and treat their employees poorly.  “We are concerned about privatization of good public-sector jobs,” said Barbara Kraft of the Washington Interfaith Network, which is teaming with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and individual bus and streetcar operators to lobby the D.C. Council to bring all District transit operations in-house. …

Union: Look to Circulator and D.C. Streetcar for evidence of why Metro shouldn’t be privatized
Source: Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post, May 16, 2017
 
Reliability problems with the D.C. Circulator and planning and construction shortfalls of the city’s streetcar system are examples of why the District and Metro should be wary of privatizing more services, the transit agency’s union said Tuesday.  Although the District Department of Transportation owns the Circulator buses and oversees the D.C. streetcar, Amalgamated Transit Union International says there’s an implicit warning for Metro.  “Fix the service you have; take responsibility for the quality of service you have,” said Michael McCall-Delgado, a strategic researcher at ATU International and author of a new report, “Fool D.C. Twice.” … The union report holds the District partially responsible for the decline of the region’s transit system, saying that instead of investing in Metro, local leaders pushed seemingly “hip” and “premium ridership” projects to attract millennials to the city. …

… ATU, which represents more than 9,000 Metro employees through its Local 689 chapter, has rejected Wiedefeld’s shift toward privatization, including a proposal that would use private contractors to fill station manager or track inspection jobs on the second phase of the Silver Line. Contractors could also be used to operate such facilities as new bus garages. Separately, Metro has nearly doubled its spending on private contractors over the past two years. In its report, however, the union takes D.C. officials to task for failing to hold contractors accountable for construction, planning and service failures. The report highlights how the Circulator, operated by Cincinnati-based First Transit, has been beset by maintenance problems for years “while avoiding government oversight,” according to the union. Circulator buses have a notoriously poor reliability record, with the 2016 audit finding an average of 22 defects per bus. Many of the defects — nearly three per bus — were tied to safety equipment and should have been caught during routine inspections, the audit said. And the problems have persisted: A report this week from WAMU said reliability issues have left the Circulator up to 10 buses short of its quota when buses depart its lots each day. …

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Champaign County Board votes to put nursing home up for sale

Source: Tom Kacich, News-Gazette, January 9, 2018
 
Champaign County Board members voted Tuesday night to put the county nursing home up for sale.  By a margin of 13-8, with Democrats Pattsi Petrie, C. Pius Weibel and Shana Jo Crews joining all 10 Republicans, the board voted to issue a request for proposals from private operators to purchase the county-owned facility in east Urbana. … Among the terms to any sale of the nursing home: … — The purchaser would assume the existing collective-bargaining agreement between the nursing home and the AFSCME union.  — The purchaser must agree to rehire all existing employees who pass a background check, not terminate 10 percent or more of the employees within the first 60 days following the closing date and not 20 percent or more of the current employees during the first six months after the closing date, all at their current salary levels with benefits similar to those currently received. …

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County board to get first look at proposal for sale of nursing home
Source: Tom Kacich, News-Gazette, October 10, 2017
 
Champaign County Board members will get their first review tonight of the proposal for the sale of the county-owned nursing home.  The agenda for the board’s committee-of-the-whole meeting includes an item calling for the release of a request for proposals for a privately owned firm to buy the 12-year-old facility in east Urbana. If the board approves the RFP this month, the sale of the home could be completed this winter. … The proposed request for proposals for the sale of the facility carries a number of stipulations: … That the purchaser assume the existing collective bargaining agreements at the home with the AFSCME employee union. …

Patient advocates back county ownership of nursing home
Source: Debra Pressey, The News-Gazette, March 29, 2017

Selling the Champaign County Nursing Home could lead to staff reductions, poorer care and service cuts, a group of advocates for medical patients and retirees contended. Gathering less than a week before voters will be asked to weigh in on two public policy questions — whether they support selling or disposing of the financially ailing nursing home or a tax increase to help keep it going — the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Champaign County CARE, Champaign County Health Care Consumers and others Wednesday urged voters to get behind the option that will keep the nursing home in the county’s hands. Research from Center for Medicare Advocacy, Kaiser Family Foundation and others have demonstrated that nursing home ownership matters when it comes to patient care and staffing levels, said Champaign County Health Care Consumers executive director Claudia Lennhoff. … “For-profit facilities, particularly those owned by multistate chains, are more likely to reduce spending on care for residents and to divert spending to profits and corporate overhead,” the Medicare center said in a report. … A 2011 analysis of the 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains found they had the lowest staffing levels and highest levels of deficiencies between 2003 and 2008, Lennhoff said. She also said a new owner — especially a larger and/or for-profit one — who would fill more beds at the nursing home, even increasing the Medicaid census in the process, could be a “recipe for disaster.”

… Lennhoff said Champaign County doesn’t have to look any farther than neighboring Vermilion County to see what can happen when a county disposes of its nursing home. After the county sold its Vermilion Manor Nursing Home to FNR Healthcare Group in 2013, the county was caught by surprise when 39 employees were cut by the new owner, she said. Now called Gardenview Manor, the Danville nursing home was hit by the Illinois Department of Public Health in January for two “type A” violations, which mean “a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result or has resulted” in the past three months.

Kansas legislators remain skeptical of new Lansing prison deal

Source: Allison Kite, Topeka Capital-Journal, January 11, 2018
 
Legislators remained skeptical Thursday of a plan backed by Gov. Sam Brownback to rebuild the state’s oldest, largest prison.  …. The council is expected to take a vote on the proposal next week, but legislators have continually voiced concerns over the project’s cost and CoreCivic, the private prison operator that would build it. The state would still operate the prison. …. Ward said he was concerned about correctional officers’ safety because the proposal claims to require 46 percent fewer staff members. The Kansas Department of Corrections did not engage the Kansas Organization of State Employees, which represents officers, on the project. ….

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Opinion: Bring Lansing prison proposal out of the dark
Source: Lisa Ochs, Kansas City Star, December 17, 2017
 
That project is the proposed new prison that would replace most of the current Lansing Correctional Facility. The Kansas Department of Corrections, or DOC, is pushing a lease/purchase arrangement under which private contractor CoreCivic would build the new structure and lease it to the state for 20 years. … After limited legislative review of this scheme, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on State Building Construction refused to endorse this approach. … Legislators also expressed concerns that the CoreCivic contract would be a first step toward privatization of prison operations in Kansas. As State Sen. Laura Kelly of Topeka pointed out, there is little interest in the Legislature in privatization. …

Kansas wants private prison company to build Lansing replacement
Source: John Hanna, Associated Press, November 30, 2017

Kansas plans to have the biggest private prison company in the U.S. build a replacement for the state’s oldest and largest correctional facility and pay for the project by leasing the new prison from the firm for 20 years. The state Department of Corrections announced Thursday that it selected CoreCivic Inc., based in Nashville, Tennessee, as its contractor for the new prison for 2,400 inmates in Lansing, in the Kansas City area. … Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration contends a lease-purchase deal is the most cost-effective way to build a new prison, even after a state audit in July questioned that assessment. Two legislative committees still must review the plan, and legislative leaders and Brownback must formally sign off next month for the two-year, $170 million project to move forward. …

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Iowa lawmakers return with to-do list on taxes, Medicaid

Source: Barbara Rodriguez, Associated Press, January 7, 2018
 
Iowa lawmakers return to the state Capitol on Monday with a to-do list ranging from overhauling state taxes to possibly addressing issues with the privatized Medicaid program. Republicans, entering a second year of complete statehouse control, will work amid another budget crunch and a looming election year. …

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Medicaid privatization is saving Iowa 80% less money than predicted, state report says
Source: Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, January 5, 2018
 
Iowa’s controversial shift to privately managed Medicaid will save the state 80 percent less money this fiscal year than originally predicted, a recent state estimate suggests.  Iowa now stands to save $47.1 million this fiscal year by having private companies manage the $4 billion program, according to a quarterly report prepared by staff members from the Department of Human Services.  After then-Gov. Terry Branstad ordered the shift in 2015, he predicted it would save the state $232 million in fiscal year 2018. That is the current budget year. In fiscal year 2017, which ended last June 30, the state saved nearly $119 million over what it would have spent having government administrators run the program, according to a DHS report using the same criteria used in the new estimate. …

‘We’re completely in the dark’: Families still uncertain after Iowa Medicaid transition
Source: Stephen Gruber-Miller, Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 12, 2017
 
Ryan’s case is one example of the uncertainty that has played out in households around the state in the wake of AmeriHealth’s decision this fall to leave Iowa after it could not reach an agreement with the state on reimbursement rates.  Join now for as low as $29/YR Subscribe Now AmeriHealth and the two other companies chosen to manage Iowa’s Medicaid program when it was privatized last year by then-Gov. Terry Branstad have complained of losing hundreds of millions of dollars.  When AmeriHealth announced it was leaving, state officials first gave families a choice between UnitedHealthcare and Amerigroup, the third company. Then they backtracked, saying Amerigroup did not have the capacity to handle new clients. In late November, the Department of Human Services said it would resume oversight for more than 10,000 Iowans who had tried to switch companies before the deadline. …

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Hospitals slam Kansas’ proposed Medicaid overhaul

Source: Virgil Dickson, Modern Healthcare, January 3, 2018
 
Providers are concerned that a new waiver to overhaul Kansas’ Medicaid program will impede access to care and further empower managed-care plans, which they claim lack proper oversight.   For years, Kansas providers have complained the state’s Medicaid program, known as KanCare, was complex to work under and that it underpaid or didn’t pay at all for services.  Rather than revamp KanCare’s oversight of the plans, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback submitted a waiver late last month that appears to cede additional power to them, providers said. …

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Legislative Panel Backs KanCare Renewal Plan, But Opponents Hope To Block Implementation
Source: Jim Mclean, KCUR, December 1, 2017

Republican legislators have temporarily sidetracked an effort to block the Brownback administration from obtaining federal approval to renew KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. Democrats on a joint committee that oversees KanCare wanted the panel’s report to the full Legislature to recommend keeping the current program in place until a newly elected governor takes office in January 2019. … In addition to the timing issue, advocates and some lawmakers are concerned about several provisions in the administration’s KanCare 2.0 plan, including work requirements and lifetime caps on services for some beneficiaries. …

GOP candidates fight over health program serving 400,000 Kansans
Source: Jonathan Shorman, Wichita Eagle, November 26, 2017
 
A fight between the Republican candidates for governor over the state’s privatized Medicaid program could shape what happens to the health care of more than 400,000 Kansans.  The next governor could abandon a proposed work requirement for some recipients of KanCare, which serves people who are poor, elderly or have disabilities. Or he could pursue Medicaid expansion.  Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is preparing to become governor, spearheaded the creation of KanCare in 2013. Some of his opponents say the current administration, including Colyer, has poorly run the program. …

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Release of Trump infrastructure plan may slip past January

Source: Brianna Gurciullo and Lauren Gardner, Politico, January 9, 2018
 
The White House may be pushing back the release of its long-awaited infrastructure package yet again, just a month after saying it would come out by the end of January.  A White House official said Tuesday that there have been “no decisions yet on timing” for the release. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) separately told POLITICO — after a meeting with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and other officials — that administration officials are still deciding whether to publish legislative principles for the plan before or after the president’s State of the Union address Jan. 30. …

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Mixed signals on infrastructure plan emerge from Trump retreat
Source: Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, January 7, 2018
 
President Trump expressed misgivings about his administration’s infrastructure plan Friday at Camp David, telling Republican leaders that building projects through public-private partnerships is unlikely to work — and that it may be better for the government to pursue a different path.  Then on Saturday morning, Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, delivered a detailed proposal on infrastructure and public-private partnerships that seemed to contradict the president. He said the administration hoped $200 billion in new federal government spending would trigger almost $1 trillion in private spending and local and state spending, according to people familiar with his comments. Cohn seemed to present the plan as the administration’s approach, although the president had suggested such an approach might not work. …

Why Trump’s Infrastructure Push Might Stall Again
Source: Mark Niquette, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 5, 2018
 
The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency began with hopes for a unified effort to fix U.S. highways, bridges and airports. His second year begins much the same way. There was talk in 2017 about advancing a sustained infrastructure-improvement program, but there was little progress — a reflection of the president’s priorities and the differences between Republicans and Democrats on how to pay for and carry out such an effort. That hasn’t kept Trump from predicting bipartisan agreement on the issue in 2018. …

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Atlantic City Water Services to Remain in Public Hands

Source: Jocelyn Alcox, AFSCME Now, January 9, 2018
 
Members of AFSCME New Jersey worked hard to make sure Atlantic City’s water system remains in public hands. Just before the Christmas holiday, the state announced that it will not lease or sell the city’s water system to a private company. This followed more than a year of concern from residents and activists about the fate of the Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA), and is due in large part to the hard work and dedication of AFSCME members in and around Atlantic City. “We immediately knew we had to do something,” said April Gould, president of Local 3408. “Atlantic City is already struggling and outsourcing the water would have been disastrous.  AFSCME members have always been on the front lines of community issues and this time was no different. This is the community that we live in and that we work in, you can’t just leave those problems up to somebody else and hope they work out.” …

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State says it won’t sell or lease Atlantic City MUA to private company
Source: Erin Serpico, Press of Atlantic City, December 20, 2017
 
Following more than a year of concern from city residents and local activists about the fate of the city Municipal Utilities Authority, the state announced it will not lease or sell the water system to a private company. … The state has previously urged the city to dissolve the MUA, but the city either pulled or voted down measures to do so before the state took over in November 2016. For months after, more than 100 people from civic associations, the local chapter of the NAACP, Food and Water Watch and a group called “AC Citizens Against the State Takeover” knocked on doors and collected signatures to protect the water system from being sold. …

Atlantic City Votes To Protect Its Water From Chris Christie
Source: Daniel Cohen, Alternet, July 14, 2017
 
On Tuesday, the Atlantic City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to ensure its residents get to vote on any action by the state to sell or lease the city’s water system.  Why might New Jersey sell or lease Atlantic City’s water? Well, because Christie has been laying the groundwork for such a deal for years. In 2014, he passed a statewide law making it easier for struggling municipalities to sell off water infrastructure. Turns out, Atlantic City has been struggling—mainly due to a rash of casino closures, including Trump’s failed Taj Mahal. Last summer, after the state bailed the city out, Christie made it loud and clear there were strings attached: “I want [the loan] secured by every asset they have, so that if they don’t pay it, I get to take the assets, sell them and pay you [the taxpayer] back.” Late last year, he delivered on that promise and took control of the city’s assets and most of its decision-making power. …

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