Tag Archives: Connecticut

Farmington High School Students to Boycott School Lunch Program

Source: NBC Connecticut, Oct 29, 2014

Many Farmington High School students are fed up with their school lunch program and hundreds of them are planning to bring their own lunch to school next week in protest.

Chartwells has run the school’s cafeteria services for about three years, according to administrators. While the food quality, portion size and price are all concerns students are raising on a Chartwells Boycott Facebook page created to boycott the cafeteria lunches, student Sarah White said there’s a policy Chartwells has that she finds humiliating.

FBI Tracks Charter Schools

Source: Ruth Conniff, PR Watch, August 20, 2014

There’s been a flood of local news stories in recent months about FBI raids on charter schools all over the country. From Pittsburgh to Baton Rouge, from Hartford to Cincinnati to Albuquerque, FBI agents have been busting into schools, carting off documents, and making arrests leading to high-profile indictments. … What’s going on here? Charter schools are such a racket, across the nation they are attracting special attention from the FBI, which is working with the Department of Education’s inspector general to look into allegations of charter-school fraud. …

Connecticut: Redflex Busted For Impersonating The State Court

Source: theNewspaper.com, July 31, 2014

Australian photo ticketing company busted for impersonating the Connecticut judicial system.
School busThe state of Connecticut’s judicial system in January issued a cease-and-desist order to Redflex Traffic Systems after the Australian photo ticketing vendor was caught giving the impression that its tickets and payment website came from the court. Connecticut does not allow red light cameras or speed cameras, but Redflex uses school buses as photo ticketing platforms in accordance with a law passed in 2011. One of the vehicle owners who received a $450 school bus ticket from Redflex under this law became suspicious and sent a copy of the notice he received to Connecticut’s chief court administrator, who was appalled at what he saw….

SHU’s outsourcing means loss of free tuition for custodians’ kids

Source: Keila Torres Ocasio, ctpost.com, June 14, 2014

A perk of working for a university is often the right for a worker’s children to attend free of charge. The benefit was one of the main reasons that Miguel, who declined to give his full name, decided to take a $6 an hour pay cut when he went to work for the custodial department at Sacred Heart University two years ago….But beginning this summer, Miguel’s daughter, who will be a junior in high school this fall, will no longer have the benefit of free tuition at the university because Miguel will no longer be working directly for SHU. The university this summer is outsourcing management of its custodial services to Southeast Service Corp., a Tennessee company and subsidiary of the Compass Group Inc. “SHU has had a working relationship the Compass Group for many years, through its subsidiary Chartwells Dining Services, which consistently receives high marks from the university community,” said Funda Alp, an SHU spokesperson….

Criminal investigation of health exchange’s backpack loss

Source: Associated Press, June 20, 2014

Federal and local authorities are investigating the loss of a backpack containing the Social Security numbers and birthdates of hundreds of people who signed up for health insurance through the state’s exchange. An Access Health CT call center worker employed by a vendor, Maximus, has said he mistakenly left a backpack outside a deli in the city on June 6 while waiting for a ride. The backpack, which eventually was turned in to a Republican state representative’s Hartford office, contained four notepads with 413 handwritten notes, including names, Social Security numbers, and birthdates.
Related:
Access Health does damage control following security breach
Source: New Britain Herald, June 13, 2014

Access Health CT Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Madrak is reaching out to consumers who may have been affected by the security breach that occurred on Friday, June 6. An Access Health employee working for the call center vendor Maximus left a backpack on Trumbull Street in Hartford. The backpack contained four paper notepads with 413 handwritten notes, consisting of a combination of names, Social Security numbers and birthdates….

Company Says Health Care Exchange Contracts Are “Trade Secrets”
Source: Alan Yu, WNPR, May 7, 2014

The company that got the multimillion-dollar contract to run the call centers for the health care exchange Access Health CT — called Maximus — is refusing to release invoices and contracts to show exactly how much they are paid by the state. WNPR filed a freedom of information request for the information, but Maximus said the invoices and contracts could reveal trade secrets. Maximus values its contract with Connecticut at $15 million over three years, and that’s all the company would say. Last year, WNPR reporter Jeff Cohen asked for the contract between Maximus and the state, as well as invoices, to find out what the state paid for and how much it paid. What he got was heavily redacted information. Cohen filed a complaint, and then went to a formal hearing before Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission. WNPR argued that the documents are public….

Connecticut health exchange vows to improve call center
Source: Bulletin, January 17, 2014

….Peter Van Loon, the chief operating officer at Access Health CT, said the marketplace’s call center has been overwhelmed with calls. He said the center’s performance during the recent deadline to obtain coverage by Jan. 1 was “wholly unsatisfactory,” pointing out how many callers hung up in frustration. In mid-December, some waited an average of 20 minutes before speaking with a representative. “We just woefully underestimated the number of calls,” Van Loon said. Van Loon said the private vendor operating the call center, Maximus Inc., is more than doubling its call center representatives from 149 to more than 300 by the end of the week Also, he said Maximus is opening a call center in Illinois and expanding an existing center in Georgia to help with fielding Connecticut calls. ….

Employees step forward to retire early

Source: Luke Marshall, Citizen’s News, June 19, 2014

Naugatuck – Eight public works employees have agreed to an early retirement deal, while a ninth is seeking the option as well. The early retirements come as the borough seeks to save money and will transition trash and recycling collections to private companies. Originally, the agreement between the borough and Local 1303-12 of Council 4, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents public works employees, stated up to seven employees could take the option. After further negations the number was raised to eight. According to the agreement, four of the employees are expected to retire on June 27. The other four will retire on Sept. 26…..Five positions will be lost through attrition after the switch to private collections in the 2014-15 fiscal year. The Board of Mayor and Burgesses in May awarded five-year contracts to the Oakville-based Copes Rubbish Removal for curbside collections and USA Hauling and Recycling of Enfield for municipal dumpster collections. The collections have been done by public works employees. The move is estimated to save the borough about $485,000 over the five years.

New Milford to Study Viability of Privatizing Recycling Center

Source: Alice Tessier, ctcentral.com, June 12, 2014

A subcommittee will be formed to look into the viability of privatizing the town’s recycling center. …. Michael Zarba, the director of the Public Works Department, who oversees the management of the center, located on Young’s Field Road, said he was “not as enthusiastic” about possible privatization. “We may lose control [and] may not make money” if such an action were taken…. The mayor pointed out that the included in the packet of information provided to the council regarding the evening’s agenda were “some sample topics” about the issue. “Some are facts and some are just ideas and concerns,” she said. They include potential cost savings, considering labor, maintenance, fuel and “other soft costs that may not be so apparent,” such as administrative and accounting costs, liability insurance, employee pensions, vehicle maintenance, depreciation, security and so forth…..

Senate Sends Nursing Home Bill To Malloy

Source: Christine Stuart, CTNewsJunkie, May 6, 2014

The Senate gave final passage Monday to a bill that was high up on the largest healthcare union’s wish list. The bill passed the Senate 24-11 and it requires any business that does more than $50,000 of business with one of the 154 for-profit nursing homes in the state to share their profit and loss statement with the state. The information would be available under the state’s Freedom of Information laws. ….The state provides about $1.6 billion of taxpayer fund to nursing homes. “We have an interest, as a state that’s providing so much funding to these nursing homes, to be able to assess the real financial condition of all the interrelated businesses,” Deborah Chernoff, public policy director for SEIU District 1199, said in testimony to the legislature. She cited bankruptcy filings by nursing homes owned by two chains—Haven Healthcare, in 2007, and HealthBridge Management, in 2013 – as cases that highlight the need for financial transparency…..
Related:
Senate Approves Union-Backed Nursing Home Transparency Bill
Source: Christopher Keating, Courant, Capitol Watch blog, May 5, 2014

On a day marked by Republican filibusters in both chambers, the state Senate debated for more than four hours on Monday night and into Tuesday morning before approving a controversial, union-backed bill that would increase the transparency of financial transactions at for-profit nursing homes. The bill calls for public disclosure of the annual profit-and-loss statements for private companies that have expenses of more than $50,000 per year in businesses related to the nursing homes, such as separate subsidiaries that handle laundry, food, rehabilitation, computer or management services. When money is moved around among those subsidiaries, union leaders said, the true financial condition of the multi-layered nursing homes is sometimes obscured. The nursing home might appear to be losing money while all the related subsidiaries – owned by the same parent company – were making money, union officials said. …

Nursing Home Disclosure Bill: Transparency Or Intrusion?
Source: Connecticut Health Investigative Team, CTNewsJunkie, April 18, 2014

The state’s nursing homes call it excessive and intrusive. The Malloy administration calls it a move towards transparency. At issue is a proposed bill that would require nursing homes to disclose the financial status of any “related party” businesses that contract with the homes – such as associated companies that own the facility properties, or spinoff businesses that provide rehabilitation or management services. The bill would require that the nursing homes report profits and losses for any side businesses that receive more than $10,000 a year from them….

Why Is the City of New Haven Selling Gift Cards?

Source: J.B. Wogan, Governing, February 28, 2014

Beginning later this spring, New Haven, Conn., will offer a reloadable gift card for downtown parking and shopping, a twist on the recent trend of cities offering general purpose prepaid cards for storing and spending money. Although the New Haven program shares some characteristics with other city-issued cards, it’s intended to come with limited features and a narrow focus on stimulating the local economy. Other cities have sought to use government-issued prepaid cards to fight poverty and increase public safety, rather than to spur commerce. More municipalities are likely to adopt both models in the coming years. A non-reloadable version of the New Haven Shop Dine Park card launched in January and works like a gift card, running on the Discover financial network. Residents can purchase a card for $3.95 and use it to upload as much as $999. Currently, consumers have to buy another card if they spend down the funds on their card. Most parking meters in the city accept Discover card, which allows them to accept the city gift card as well. Likewise, more than 280 retailers in the city’s business improvement districts accept the card…. The New Haven card is a modification of the ParkEasy prepaid card, which allows people to pay for parking on the street or in garages. Currently, the ParkEasy card is available in a handful of cities, such as Lexington, Ky., Chicago and the District of Columbia. While New Haven is the only city to have the shop-dine card, others have inquired about launching their own, said Beth Fahey, a program manager at ParkEasy….

…One benefit of the New Haven program is the lack of hidden fees because it is technically a gift card. Last year city-issued general purpose prepaid cards drew criticism from Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy branch of Consumer Reports, for being too expensive. In a letter to the National League of Cities, the group noted that prepaid cards tend to have inadequate protection against theft and fraudulent use of cards or card numbers, not to mention high, hidden or confusing fees….

States Look to Nursing Homes to Lower Prison Health Care Costs

Source: Chris Kardish, Governing, February 27, 2014

As medical bills in prison systems rise along with the average age of inmates, states are considering once-unlikely alternatives to the prison health ward for their sickest convicts and parolees: private nursing homes. While many states have special programs within their correctional systems for prisoners with severe health needs, few have partnered with outside facilities, which allows a state to save money through Medicaid and Medicare. States can apply for reimbursements through those health programs for inmates who need health services in facilities outside the prison system, effectively shifting significant costs to the federal government. Connecticut opened its first nursing home with a private contractor last May, though California has been sending parolees to nursing homes since 2010. Most recently, a top-ranking Republican lawmaker from Michigan is exploring legislation to do the same, underscoring the drive to find new solutions among constituencies that have long avoided policies that could be portrayed as soft on crime. …