AUGUSTA, Maine — Democratic leaders on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Monday were again calling on Gov. Paul LePage’s administration to cancel its nearly $1 million contract with a Rhode Island-based consultant.
Democrats noted that, so far, the state has paid the Alexander Group $378,000 for the five-part study of the state’s welfare programs including an analysis on the possible expansion of Medicaid in Maine. The state’s contract with the firm, headed by former Pennsylvania Commissioner of Public Welfare Gary Alexander, calls for Maine to pay a total of $925,000.
Alexander and the first part of his report on Medicaid delivered in January have come under heavy criticism by Democrats and others supporting an expansion of the state and federally funded Medicaid program, MaineCare.
“Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on a failed consultant whose work is flawed, the administration should focus its efforts on helping struggling families who are trying to get back on their feet,” state Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, said. “Why are we paying them with taxpayers’ money, seeing as we aren’t even getting anything?”
Craven, the Senate chairwoman of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, has co-authored a bill with state Rep. Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland, to cancel the Alexander Group’s contract.
Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew released the first part of the Alexander Group report on Medicaid in January after several requests from the media to do so.
While the state received the first installment of the report on Dec. 16, 2013, it was not made public until Jan. 10 and only after Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, responding to a complaint from the Sun Journal, asked LePage to release the documents and noted he was in violation of the state’s open records laws.
Neither LePage’s office nor the the Maine Department of Health and Human Services responded to a request for an update on the study or what’s been delivered to the state.
Those who say the Alexander Group is credible, including Mayhew, say the study is showing that an expansion of Medicaid in Maine will cost taxpayers as much as $800 million over the next 10 years.
Supporters of the expansion say that expense will be largely negated by revenue from the federal government, which under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will pay for up to 100 percent of the expansion costs for the first three years and then ratchets that reimbursement back to 90 percent over a 10-year period.
According to the state’s contract with the Alexander Group, the first part of its report had a target due date of Dec. 1, 2013, the second and third parts of the report were due Dec. 20, 2013. The fourth part is due March 15 and the final part on May 15.
On Monday, Farnsworth again pointed to the terms in the state’s contract with the Alexander Group and speculated LePage had either not received additional parts of it or was not releasing them because they are flawed.
“I can think of two reasons why the governor has not released any new deliverables in the contract,” Farnsworth said. “One is that there are none and two is that the quality of the first report was such that any follow-up is equally as flawed and may prove to be an additional embarrassment to the administration.”
Farnsworth said he couldn’t understand why the state continues to pay the Alexander Group.
“It seems to me that standard business practice is that you pay when you receive either goods or services,” Farnsworth said. “At this point we have received only flawed goods and only a small portion of those goods at that.”