Five years ago, the private Kentucky American Water quit including local government fees on water bills then used the resulting revenue loss to justify charging Lexington households and businesses more for water. It still galls that the public had to pay twice — once because it cost $700,000 a year more to outsource sewer and other billing to the Cincinnati Water Works, and again when the water company used its annual loss of $1.59 million from canceling the city contract to argue for a rate increase, an argument accepted by the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The city recently brought the billing home, in hopes of eventually saving $400,000 a year. The transition to in-house billing also created six customer service jobs in Lexington. It appears to be a smart move by Mayor Jim Gray’s administration. The city has paid the increased billing costs out of fees paid by consumers. That’s millions of dollars that could have gone into upgrading sanitary sewers, controlling flooding and supporting recycling if Kentucky American had not ended the billing agreement. Most cities never face such a problem because most water utilities are owned by the public. …
Source: Reuters, August 16, 2018
Like most family housing on U.S. bases today, the home wasn’t owned and operated by the military. It was managed by Villages of Benning, a partnership between two private companies and the U.S. Army, whose website beckons families to “enjoy the luxuries of on-post living.” … The results: At least 113 spots in the home had lead paint, including several peeling or crumbling patches, requiring $26,150 in lead abatement. Villages of Benning moved the Browns into another old house next door. The heavy metal had stunted JC’s brain, medical records reviewed by Reuters show. At age two, he was diagnosed with a developmental disorder caused by lead. Now eight, JC has undergone years of costly therapy. … The Browns’ story and others, told publicly for the first time here, reveal a toxic scourge inside homes on military bases. Previously undisclosed military and state health records, and testing by Reuters for lead in soldiers’ homes, show problems at some of America’s largest military installations.
… Reuters tested five homes at Benning, using a methodology designed with a Columbia University geochemist. All five contained hazardous levels of deteriorating lead paint within reach of children, in one case exceeding the federal threshold by a factor of 58. Testing turned up problems elsewhere as well. At West Point, New York, home of the United States Military Academy, paint chips falling from a family’s front door contained lead at 19 times the federal threshold. At Kentucky’s Fort Knox, whose vaults hold much of America’s gold reserves, Reuters found paint peeling from a covered porch where small kids play. It contained 50 percent lead by weight, or 100 times the threshold. … These homes put military kids at risk. Reuters obtained medical data from the Army showing that at least 31 small children tested high for lead at a Fort Benning hospital over a recent six-year period. …
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. …
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….
Less than a year after he was hired as the first director of the Kentucky Department of Education’s charter school division, Earl Simms said he is resigning May 25 so that his wife can go back to her previous job in St. Louis. Simms told WDRB-TV in Louisville and the Herald-Leader that he was not leaving because former Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt suddenly resigned in April at a state school board meeting, one day after Gov. Matt Bevin appointed several new board members. The board of all-Bevin appointees that same day hired charter school proponent Wayne D. Lewis Jr. as an interim Commissioner. … Though the charter school movement appears to be stalled, Lewis has said he will work with Kentucky Department of Education officials to determine if there is a path for charter schools that doesn’t require the General Assembly to approve a funding mechanism. …
A closer look at the future of charter schools in Kentucky
Source: Emilie Arroyo, WKYT, April 18, 2018
The Kentucky Board of Education is taking a new direction after the resignation of education commissioner Dr. Stephen Pruitt and Gov. Matt Bevin’s appointments of new board members this week. Many expect that direction to be a stronger push for charter schools, but Kentucky’s legislature ended its 2018 session with no funding process in place. … While it’s unclear when Kentucky will see it’s first charter school, we do know how it will work. …
Kentucky Lawmakers Approve Charter School Law
Source: Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week, March 15, 2017
After years of failed attempts, Kentucky lawmakers have approved a charter school law. The measure passed the state Senate on a vote of 23-15 Wednesday afternoon, largely along party lines. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin—an enthusiastic supporter of charters—is expected to sign the measure. The Kentucky House approved the bill—HB 520—last week and will still have to sign off on changes made by the Senate. … Kentucky has been one of the hardest places to pass a charter law, but with the 2016 election, Republicans in the state took control of the legislature and the governorship, clearing the way for a charter bill to succeed. The bill says nothing about how charters in Kentucky will be funded. Under its provisions, there will be no limit on the number of charter schools that can be authorized. … And while the bill says that parents, community members, public organizations, school administrators, and nonprofits can apply to operate a charter school, there is nothing in the legislation that prevents charter school operators from contracting out all of their management and operations to a for-profit entity. …
Source: Danielle Paquette, Washington Post, April 23, 2018
One of the country’s largest federal contractors has been accused of underpaying about 10,000 workers who run help hotlines for public health insurance programs, including the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, by up to $100 million over the past five years, according to four complaints filed Monday to the Labor Department. The complaint brought by the Communications Workers of America alleges that General Dynamics Information Technology misclassified employees at call centers in Kentucky, Florida, Arizona and Texas to suppress their wages. The union, which does not represent the workers, said the contractor hired or promoted workers into roles that require special training but paid them below government-set rates for the jobs they performed. The complaint covers the period since 2013, when GDIT started a $4 billion, 10-year contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. …
Contractor that handles public’s Medicare queries will do same for Affordable Care Act
Source: Susan Jaffe, Washington Post, June 20, 2013
Within days, the company that handles a daily average of more than 60,000 calls about Medicare will be deluged by new inquiries about health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The six Medicare call centers run by Vangent, a company based in Arlington County, will answer questions about the health-care law from the 34 states that opted out of running their own online health insurance marketplaces or decided to operate them jointly with the federal government. ….. Running the 800-Medicare call centers may provide valuable experience, but Vangent’s track record reveals that it was slow to adapt when changes in the Medicare program caused dramatic spikes in demand. ….. Vangent, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Information Technology, will run both Medicare and the federal health exchange call centers under a contract worth $530 million in its first year.
Source: WTVQ, May 8, 2017
A temporary shutdown of the LEXserv online and phone bill payment system has been scheduled as Lexington’s Division of Revenue takes over the service from Greater Cincinnati Water Works. Beginning May 15, the city will manage all LEXserv customer service and billing services, eliminating the need for outsourcing. Officials say some of the many benefits include:
- City will save taxpayer dollars by moving system in-house;
- Customer service will be handled by LFUCG staff in Lexington, creating jobs;
- Payments will be mailed to a Lexington address for processing;
- New web portal for customers to make payments, review billing. …
Source: Allison Ross, Courier-Journal, March 22, 2017
The contractor that compiled a salary study for Jefferson County Public Schools admits its error made it seem the district was paying a lot more in “premium” salaries than it actually was, but said the error was limited to a supplemental report and does not negate the entire study. “There was one error in one report, and we took responsibility for that,” said Carolyn Long, vice president of Virginia-based Management Advisory Group International Inc., which conducted the salary study. Long said the roughly $40 million error was in some extra information her firm provided as a courtesy in an addition to the original report on salaries that JCPS had requested. … Stovall said the initial release of the salary study caused employees to feel undervalued and underappreciated for the work they do. He said that now, his members feel like the error is a “slap in the face.” Ron Richmond, political director for the regional chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, agreed. Richmond said more than 4,000 of his union’s members were “directly impacted by this miscalculation” and said he hopes JCPS will take action over the flawed results. …
Management Performance Review of Certain Policies, Procedures, Controls, and Financial Activity of the Jefferson County Public School District
Source: Kentucky Auditor Of Public Accounts, May 2014
From the press release:
Auditor Adam Edelen on Wednesday unveiled a comprehensive examination of the Jefferson County Public Schools, exposing an unchecked bureaucracy that has become bloated and inefficient at the expense of the classroom. The largest review ever conducted by the Auditor’s office identified outdated and inefficient operations that cost taxpayers millions of dollars, a school board that doesn’t provide adequate oversight, an inconsistent contracting process, a toothless internal audit system and serious security and privacy concerns…
… The Board considered options to reform or outsource healthcare and mental health services for students, faculty and staff, based on recommendations from consulting group Hodgkins Beckley on Friday. Options include increasing the budget for services provided, outsourcing services to a contracted health provider as Western Kentucky University has done, shifting costs out of the budget by adding a mandatory fee of around $150 dollars per student or implementing insurance and Medicaid. … MSU health services currently cost around $925,000 a year: $529,000 for health care and $396,000 for counseling. The board weighed pros and cons of six options as presented. … The third option outsources health services but keeps counseling services on campus. Urgent care clinics would be contracted to come on campus to operate services. Students would pay for the visit or use insurance or Medicaid. Employees could use insurance. While this option would significantly reduce costs, there would still be some cost the university attached. Western Kentucky University has a model like this one. The fourth option outsources services, provides funding for short term counseling, health services would be based on insurance. This is different than the third as it’s more insurance-based. … Regent Chair Steve Williams said the presentation was “food for thought” and offered a starting point for further discussion. …
… As Congress prepares to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, 14 other states with GOP governors that opted to expand Medicaid under the law may face the same reality Bevin and Hutchinson did: Taking health insurance away from hundreds of thousands of people is a complicated and risky proposition. Medicaid spending for all states was about $532 billion in 2015, with about 63 percent funded by the federal government and the rest by states. In expanding Medicaid under the ACA, Republicans in expansion states chose economics over politics, even though it meant cooperating with a law that nearly all conservatives abhor. That calculus won’t change with the transition in Washington, according to Matt Salo, who heads the National Association of Medicaid Directors.
… In upcoming legislative sessions, many GOP-dominated states are likely to preserve expansion while adding so-called personal responsibility policies that have been proposed in Kentucky and adopted in Arkansas and five other states. Those policies include monthly premiums, copays and work requirements for low-income beneficiaries. … Under the Obama administration, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana and New Hampshire received federal approval to expand their low-income health care programs for adults under different rules than traditional Medicaid. Arkansas, with its so-called private option, was the first state to receive federal approval for an alternative expansion plan in 2013. Instead of enrolling newly eligible adults in its traditional Medicaid plan, which serves primarily children, pregnant women and the elderly and disabled, the plan for low-income adults substituted private insurance for traditional Medicaid. A bipartisan collaboration between former Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature, the plan has managed to come in under budgeted costs while covering far more people than originally projected, said Amy Webb, a spokeswoman for the state’s human services agency. After it was approved, Iowa and New Hampshire proposed similar plans. … If the Medicaid expansion remains intact, Kentucky could be the first state to get approval for an alternative plan under the Trump administration. With enough latitude, even holdouts such as Florida, Texas and Virginia might be persuaded to accept federal money to cover low-income adults.