For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - Republican members of the legislature's Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday called on Democrats to offer their own alternatives to hiring an outside firm to identify savings in Maine's welfare system. The committee met Tuesday to discuss the Department of Health and Human Services' contract with an outside firm, among other items.
"Time will tell the effectiveness of the welfare auditing firm, but if Democrats are going to criticize it, I want to hear what their alternative is," said Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea). "Over the years, they have reflexively shot down every idea for curbing the skyrocketing spending at Maine's welfare agency."
Last week, Democrats also attacked a department decision to relocate one welfare office for a savings of $14 million.
"I'm not sure if Democrats even agree with us that we have a spending problem at DHHS," said Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough). "It would be nice to at least come to a consensus on that. Welfare spending on able-bodied young adults keeps going up while 3,100 of our neediest neighborsthe elderly, children, and severely disabledlanguish on wait lists."
The Department hired a firm specializing in welfare savings not to provide information supporting a need for reformthere has long been wide consensus in the administration, and among a majority of Mainers, that reform is neededbut instead to guide the department in actually accomplishing it.
"The welfare system that has grown at the state and federal levels over the years and the law that governs it is extraordinarily complex," said Rep. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock). "It makes sense to seek expertise from outside the department and the state. Instead of making political hay over a contract that has already been signed, Democrats should offer their own solutions for getting Medicaid spending under control. They have yet to even recognize the need to do so."
Rep. Malaby noted that the Alexander Group successfully helped Rhode Island save millions by obtaining more flexibility from the federal government in the administration of its Medicaid program, leading to other reforms and commonsense efficiencies. "If the Alexander Group can obtain such a waiver for Maine, we will all be ahead," he added.
Maine House Republicans
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