Monday, January 2, 2012

Rep. Clark Proposes Sensible Fixes To Family Care

For those that have followed me for a while, since before Fitzwalkerstan, they know that one of my interests and pet peeves is the disaster they have made of the child welfare system in Milwaukee County.

In the 1990s, Governor Tommy Thompson and his Republican allies took over and privatized the system. Since then, the costs have gone up exponentially and they are still having a lot of issues with it.

A majority of the cost can be attributed to the privatization.  They were paying the front line workers a lot less than county workers had been paid, but they were still racking up the costs. They were paying lavish salaries and benefits to the upper echelons in the administrations in several agencies.  Taxpayer money was also going to wasteful spending, like $9,000 conference tables and every imaginable type of promotional item they could emboss their logos and names on.  But even less money than before was going to actually providing services to the abused and neglected children or their families.

In a press release, Representative Fred Clark points out that similar abuses are occurring in the Family Care program, where an increasing amount of the cost is attributed to a growing layer of administrative bureaucracy and to executive officers of the the MCOs (Managed Care Organization) getting salaries as high as a quarter of a million dollars, more than twice what a public sector director would be paid. And like with child welfare, that means less money is actually being put to where it is supposed to be, the clients.

Clark takes it a step farther by giving sensible recommendations on how to improve the efficiency and accountability program. These include:
-Perform a detailed audit of administrative expenses, including salaries and benefits, paid to MCOs;

- Establish metrics for MCO benefit/cost ratios that will guarantee a minimum percentage of capitation rate dollars are actually used to fund services to Family Care members;

- Establish salary caps for MCO administrative positions paid with public dollars that are comparable to public employees with similar responsibilities;

- Require MCOs to develop and promote the "self-directed care" option that is established under current law. While this option exists in theory, eligible participants are rarely aware of it and MCOs often discourage members from using this option;

- Provide for a fair, independent process for grievances and appeals available both to Family Care members and care providers. This could be done by increasing funding, independent of DHS, for Disability Rights Wisconsin to operate as a program advocate, and by assuring that all members know their rights to be involved in their own care management decisions and authority to question decisions by MCOs that affect them.
If the local media ever fully and thoroughly investigated and reported how much taxpayer money is going to just make a handful of administrators rich and how much is being squandered, even the most ardent anti-public sector conservative, if they are intellectually honest, would demand that this be put back into the public sector.

I commend Representative Clark for calling this out. Hopefully this will gain bipartisan support and something good could be accomplished in this current regime.

Wouldn't that be a pleasant surprise?

1 comment:

  1. 2nd to last paragraph should end with: "put back into the public sector."