Yesterday, we had the Governor live in studio for almost a half hour and asked him all manner of questions about the past legislative session and the upcoming budget. We had a few minutes left at the end, so I wanted to get his take on the recent problems in the state’s child services reform effort, in which one contractor, Cedars, has been forced to terminate their contract with the state for financial reasons, and another, Visinet, has filed bankruptcy. You can hear our discussion on this issue here, with those questions starting at about the 13:55 point.
I was surprised to hear the Governor seem critical of the private contractors, particularly Cedars, for having gone through an RFP process and “messing up (their) bid”, given that previous media accounts and our own interview with Cedars President/CEO, Jim Blue, had indicated that the financial shortfall came largely as a result of HHS underestimating the expenses related to the contracted services and problems with Medicaid and Magellen denying services that were thought to be covered. Because I was so surprised by his answer, I asked him to clarify, in case I wasn’t understanding his response, but he again responded that he believed Cedars underestimated an RFP bid by $5.5 million dollars.
Well, apparently this also perked the ears of the folks at Cedars, as upon my arrival into work early this morning I had an emailed statement from the Governor’s office saying, “Statements regarding an RFP process on KLIN this morning were technically inaccurate. There was not a conventional RFP process. In the specific case of Cedars, they did meet their contractual obligation for terminating the contract.”
So, apparently, the Governor was either misinformed or confused on this issue. Sadly, because this problem is so complex and doesn’t carry the emotional or political wallop of illegal immigration or abortion, it’s flying under the radar right now (although JoAnne Young from the LJS has done a great job covering the story). This is a major issue that affects completely innocent children who have had the misfortune of bad circumstances or parents who have made terrible decisions, and I’m hopeful the Governor’s lack of information and lax attitude aren’t shared by the people under his command over at HHS in addressing this issue.