House Democratic Office
Dec. 13, 2013
Contact: Ann Kim 287-1488, cell: 233-1838
REP. FARNSWORTH: LEPAGE MISMANAGEMENT, OBSTRUCTIONISM HURTING MAINERS
Administration needs to better serve citizens, use taxpayer dollars wisely
Maine people hear a lot from Governor Paul LePage about saving money. There are a few things on that front Iíd like to hear him address Ė ways that he can get his administrationís house in order so government can better serve its citizens and use taxpayer dollars more wisely.
Good morning. Iím Representative Dick Farnsworth of Portland. Thank you for tuning in.
Iím the House chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. Lately, weíve been deeply concerned about the LePage administrationís lack of public accountability. Itís been mismanaging matters and using taxpayer dollars irresponsibly. People are being hurt as a result.
It was shocking to learn that, months ago, without any public review, the governor secretly awarded a $1 million contract for a study on health care expansion and state anti-poverty programs.
This no-bid contract went to the out-of-state firm of Gary Alexander, a like-minded friend who had headed Pennsylvaniaís Health and Human Services Department. In that role, he cut health care for 89,000 children Ė including kids with life-threatening illnesses who were mistakenly deemed ineligible.
Those facts alone should make us question the award of this contract. But it gets worse.
An audit in Pennsylvania found that Mr. Alexanderís mismanagement cost the state at $7 million dollars. Here in Maine, he failed to deliver the first part of his study that was due at the beginning of the month. Maine had already paid him more than $100,000 in advance.
Whereís the accountability? Is this ďstudyĒ really the best way to spend this money?
We could be using these resources for direct services to people in need.
For the price tag of this study, we could hire 23 people at the stateís psychiatric hospital, which is in danger of losing $20 million in federal funding under this administrationís watch.
Our committee is also dealing with fallout from the failing new MaineCare rides system Ė a program that 45,000 people depend on for transportation to dialysis, mental health services and other kinds of appointments.
The administration made big changes to the program over the summer. Since then, people have missed thousands of appointments because they couldnít get through on the phone to arrange rides or because drivers didnít show up.
The biggest problems have been with Coordinated Transportation Solutions, which has a $23.8 million dollar contract. CTS was supposed to shape up by Dec. 1, but the administration still hasnít said what theyíre going to do about them.
Complicating things is that CTS was supposed to get a performance bond Ė a kind of insurance to make sure that if they donít do their work right, taxpayers wonít be on the hook.
Itís a basic requirement of the contract, but somehow that administration let it slip. Meanwhile, CTS is going to ask the state for additional money.
Democrats have introduced two bills to fix the rides program. One would create a more reliable and efficient system based on a model used by Vermont. The other would cancel failed contracts.
These are tough issues, but the LePage administration wonít work with lawmakers on them.
The governor has refused to allow his commissioners and staff to come talk to us. Instead, they send written answers to questions we had weeks earlier. Itís often too little, too late.
This is fiscal mismanagement and obstructionism. Itís playing politics when Maine people deserve better.
Iím Representative Dick Farnsworth of Portland. Thank you for listening.