Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bill Crawford: Has anything changed?

Just when you thought it might finally be safe to swim in Mississippi's contractual storm waters, the MDE and Mississippi True contracts erupted.


As reported by The Clarion-Ledger, "both State Auditor Stacey Pickering and the state’s legislative watchdog 'PEER' committee blasted the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and vowed further investigation into its contracting and purchasing."

PEER questioned MDE practices that seemed to intentionally evade state contract review oversight. As reported by Mississippi Today, PEER pointed to contracts issued to the same company from 2014 to 2016 “having apparent similarities in scope of work and for amounts that collectively exceeded bid thresholds, rather than competitively bidding contracts for such services.”

Pickering said the avoidance was intentional, “They have blatant disregard at the Department of Education for procurement regulations.”

CL columnist Geoff Pender was especially skeptical of MDE behavior. "So far, the explanations from MDE have been of the 'nuh-uh, ‘taint so, nothing to see here' variety and, 'whoever did that is no longer here and a dog ate the paperwork.' Explanations from the board have been nonexistent — odd, given serious issues have been raised over spending of millions of taxpayers’ dollars under its watch."

This comes virtually on the heels of the contract scandals at the Mississippi Department of Corrections that led to criminal charges and convictions.

Rep. Jerry Turner and Governor Phil Bryant tightened up the contract review process, but not soon enough to prevent the Division of Medicaid from slipping a $2 billion contract through via a loophole.

Mississippi True is the legislatively authorized Provider Sponsored Health Plan created by Mississippi hospitals to compete with out-of-state companies for the state Medicaid managed care contract.

Medicaid leaders decided this $2 billion contract did not need to go before the contract review board. When Medicaid's internal process gave the managed care contract to three out-of-state companies, Mississippi True protested. Gov. Bryant directed Medicaid to submit the contract and its review process to the review board.

Last month the review board finally considered the contract but took no action. Staff said Medicaid's contracting process did not fully comply with guidelines, but recommended the board waive that noncompliance and approve the contract. The board was unable to get a seconded motion to either approve or disapprove the contract.

Changes intended to strengthen the review process, however, provided a loophole Medicaid will jump through. While the law says the review board is to "approve all personal and professional services contracts" in excess of $75,000, a new section was slipped in that says a contract "shall be presumed to be approved if the Personal Service Contract Review Board does not object to the contract within thirty (30) days."

Since the review board took no action, Medicaid says this new provision lets it move ahead. Mississippi True is seeking court intervention..

This spring, Turner passed additional legislation to strengthen the review process. It repeals the 30-day loophole. But, unusally, the Legislature delayed implementation of Turner's changes until next January.

So, despite the prison contract scandal, we still have two government agencies dodging contract review, an indecisive contract review board, an ill-timed change to the law, and ongoing contract eruptions.

With apologies to Tammy Bullock-Rutherford, that's so Mississippi.


Crawford is syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let’s shed some light on this, please. It’s time for these people to stop lining their pockets at our cost.

Anonymous said...

Where is the person who stated that most of the legislators are good, honest, people who are serving the public? This type of stuff continues to happen because your elected representatives allow it to happen.

When Mississippi Power, or another company looking for political favors/influence, wants to influence, reward or payback a politician they simply ask someone in the Republican party to throw a fund raiser for this individual. They don't sponsor it themselves but they do make sure that the money gets to the appropriate person. Everyone, from the company, to the host, to the candidate, to the consultants, to the party, gets something out of it.

So when large contracts are negotiated behind closed doors or done on a "no bid" basis you can be sure someone is lining their pockets. And there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.

Anonymous said...

People only care when the person getting the cash is a member of the other party. They do not have the same train of thought when the person collecting the cash is a member of their party. That makes it very easy for politicians to steal. They can count on their party members to support their right to steal.

Anonymous said...

Crawford must be on the MHA payroll just like the CL. The Medicaid contract was a win AGAINST the dark side. Totally transparent and competitive....which is why the legislature and MHA are up in arms.

StarRider said...

Neither party has a monopoly on this kind of crap. The corruption permeates the entire state, down to the county and city levels.

Anonymous said...

2:51; how do you figure that? Is is ok from someone out of state to steal?

Anonymous said...

Attempts have been made for years and years to change contracting laws in Mississippi to make this sort of thing difficult if not impossible.
Neither the MS State Contracting Board ,legislature or any State Department want to prevent their cronies from profiting at taxpayer expense.

Anonymous said...

3:21 who stole what?

Smile Please said...

Who stole what? You can't be serious. Even if you woke up just yesterday you should know this Wright-Wrong Woman has funneled hundreds of thousands to her friends and fellow-hoodlums now residing out of state. She will get her cut. That's 'theft' no matter how you slice the pie.

But, she thinks she can evade prosecution by concocting this lame story about 'Contracts for various deliverables may appear similar and part of a whole but the deliverables are essentially stand-alone and different, so my department is innocent'.

Time to measure her for an orange jumpsuit.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I was taking about the Medicaid contract. The Ed lady should be in jail. I agree.

It’s not apples to apples though to bring Medicaid into this. It’s quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Bill Crawford is a good guy, but the reality is, as has been pointed out here before, he is on the payroll of (and in the bed with) Mississippi hospitals. There is nothing morally wrong with that, of course. BUT, one should always remember that EVERYTHING he writes about health care issues must be viewed through the tinted lens of his professional and associational bias, which he never seems to disclose. http://msbusiness.com/2015/02/anderson-regional-medical-center-announces-bill-crawford-board-directors/

Anonymous said...

Comparing the illegal MDE contracts with the totally transparent Medicaid contracting process tells me he is getting the same pressure that the Clarion Ledger kids are.

The bad guys are the winners in (1) and losers in (2).

Anonymous said...

Tate holds a 5k to enter fundraiser often. Then brags about all the money he has in the bank. Does he really think we that stupid? We know those lobbyists and companies are not giving that much money cause they like him. He is shaking em down. Here is how it goes down. You boys raise me 100k and I will make sure your nvestment pays off in a big tax break for your company. Then he state runs short of money and everybody says what is wrong? Ha ha ha lmao!

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