Monday, December 18, 2017

Medicaid malarky? We report, you decide.

The Mississippi Division of Medicaid refused to provide a copy of a $23 million no-bid information technology contract that was cancelled by Governor Phil Byrant.  JJ reported in October that the Division tried to issue the contract to Cerner. The Division did not issue a RFP for the contract.   Lobbying reports state that the Division's Executive Director visited the company's out of state headquarters several times while enjoying a nice tab of food and drinks.


Cerner is a Kansas City company that specializes in health care information technology. The state would have paid $3.1 million while federal funds would have paid for the rest of the contract amount.  The Governor said that the cost of the contract would outweigh any savings and the current system met the Division's current needs.  The proposal was approved by CMMS. 

 JJ submitted a public records request to the Division of Medicaid for a copy of the proposed Cerner contract.  However, the Division said that it could not provide the contract until thirty days had passed after the submission of the request and if Cerner did not obtain a protective order within the thirty-day period.

Thirty days passed and no such request was filed in Hinds County Chancery Court.  However, the Division changed its tune and said the proposal was an amendment to another contract that was sealed in 2011.

A review of some lobbying reports reveals that the outgoing Executive Director of the Division. Dr. David Dzielak, has enjoyed some of Cerner's hospitality on several trips to Cerner's corporate headquarters in Kansas City.  Lord Snow lobbyists Sydney Allen, Jr., Kathryn Stewart, and Caroline Wicker Sims represent Cerner for $60,000 per year.

Campaign finance reports submitted by Lord Snow lobbyists state that Dr. Dzielak visited Cerner at least four times in 2016 and 2015.  Cerner whined and dined the Director as it paid for no less than 24 of his meals.  The report for 2017 has not yet been submitted.  The reports are posted below. They also state that he also made trips to Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, DC.  Cerner treated him to 5 meals on those trips as well.  


Dr. Dzielak submitted his letter of resignation to Governor Bryant last week.

Restaurant/Cost/Date/Location

2016
The Manship: $70, 1/28
G&M Restaurant: $56, 3/20 (Kansas City)
McCormick & Schmick’s: $70, 3/21 (Kansas City)
Cleaver & Cork: $72, 4/6 (Kansas City)
Shapleys: $60 8/29
Restaurant Eve: $110 11/7 (Alexandria, Va.)
Jaleo Crystal City: $21 11/7 (Arlington, Va.)
Q39: $20, 11/14 (Kansas City)
Restaurant Chophouse: $117 11/14
Cooper’s Hawk: $8 11/14 (Kansas City)
Gordon Biersch Brewer: $10, 11/15 (Kansas City)
Uber: $3.53 11/16
Pierpoint’s: $83 11/16 (Kansas City)

2015

Walkers: $80 4/16
Cups Fondren $8 4/17
Amura Japanese Restaurant: $77 6/3 (Orlando?)
Centro: $45, 8/17 (Kansas City)
Centro: $318, 8/17 (Kansas City)
McCoys: $30 10/11 (Kansas City)
The Dubliner: $25 (Kansas City)
Jackstack BBQ: $49 10/12 (Kansas City)
The Majestic: $25 10/13 (Kansas City)
Pierpoint’s at Union Station: $125 10/13 (Kansas City)
The Hamilton: $15 11/2 (DC)
Old Ebbit Grill: $19 11/2 (DC)
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak: $99, 11/2 (DC)

2014
Maker’s Mark: $60, 11/2 (Kansas City)
Garozzo’s: $52 11/3 (Kansas City)
Harry’s County Club: $5 11/2 (Kansas City)
Manny’s: $18, 11/2
Anton’s KC: $93 11/4 (Kansas City)
Arthur Bryant’s BBQ: $13, 11/4 (Kansas City)

2013
Cemer Health Conference: $950 10/6 (Kansas City)
Jackstacks: $30, 10/7 (Kansas City)
Pierpoint: $112, 10/7 (Kansas City)
Arthur Bryant’s: $16 10/8 (Kansas City)
Sheraton Crown Center: $618, 10/8 (Kansas City)
The Majestic: $104, 10/8 (Kansas City)





31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good work Kingfish. Maybe the state and federal investigation arms of our government should hire you full time instead of sitting by their computers waiting to see what you will post next and reacting to your posts. You are so far ahead of the investigators. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

There's a reason why JJ is #1!

Anonymous said...

When I read the lede and first paragraph, I was expecting to see Irwin Mayfield-class malarkey, something that looked like NFL rookie hazing faked checks or what an Ole Miss booster spends recruiting, but from the list of tabs shown, it looks not only reasonable, but almost impossibly low. For example, $19.00 at The Old Ebbitt Grill - that's like an appetizer, tea, tax and a small tip. And $70 at a McCormick and Schmick (for wannabe-players who can't afford the more "serious" steakhouses, for those who don't know what it is)? Again, seems reasonable and exclusive of any significant libation - at most, maybe one cocktail or glass of house. Now, he may be crooked as all getout, but from this list, I don't see it.

Anonymous said...

Thought this was nothing until I saw the $8.00 at CUPS. That is some serious money and could see how that could drive a man to do something unethical. Thanks for pointing out all the corruption.

Anonymous said...

Literacy coaches, you know, the folks teaching kids how to read, get a $46 a day meal stipend when they have overnight travel according to the MDE website. So yeah, the taxpayers picking up $70 steak dinner tabs to schoomze crony contracts seems a little excessive. I bet when Carey Wright takes her cronies out to eat they have ChikfilA.

Anonymous said...


GREAT JOB !!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Problem is, this guy knows nada about technology. And even if he did, no CEO would need that many visits with a technology vendor. I mean maybe one visit. Two tops

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, you do a lot of good investigative reporting. I appreciate your diligence. However, I think that you are wasting time and effort on this story. This is nothing compared to an Epps scandal or the Beef Plant or the solar company goat show in Hattiesburg.

First off, Dr. Dzielak received about $3700 in benefit over 4 years. That's less than $1000/year, and half of the $3700 was attributable to a single conference at Cerner HQ in Kansas City. Now, maybe that trip was all about hookers and blow, but let's give the good doctor the benefit of the doubt and assume that he attended some of the educational sessions while he was there.

Secondly, Cerner is one of (if not the largest) health information technology companies on the planet (https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/CERN?p=CERN). I know nothing about their population health solutions, but there are probably only a handful of companies around that have the expertise and resources to build a pop health platform that scales to a state level. Cerner would be one of those.

I am accustomed to seeing MS municipalities and state agencies using no-name, fly-by-night vendors that are clearly getting the business due to personal favors, nepotism and palm-greasing (Malachi Financial comes to mind). Cerner is not one of those companies. Like it or not, all-expense conferences and fancy steak dinners are the way most top-tier vendors court their customers. Dr. Dzielak missed out by not engaging one or two of Cerner's competitors and getting double or triple the perks.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the hoes and strippers and what not? My ole raggedy MIL has been yapping for weeks about what a pos this guy is. Looks pretty clean to me KF.

Anonymous said...

The Feds have strict rules regarding those who are in positions to approve contracts and their ability for prospective contractors to 'wine and dine' them. They're very strict and violating them leads to termination and possible jail time. Mississippi has turned its nose up to adopting similar rules while other states have embraced them. Why? It's too easy for someone in the fattest state to get a good meal and approve a contract. What a bunch of neanderthals.

Anonymous said...

However, I think that you are wasting time and effort on this story.

Then move along and let those who want to waste their time do so.

Anonymous said...

You're onto something Kingfish considering how many apologists have suddenly arrived to defend Dzielak.

Anonymous said...

Why are we sending another $23 million out of state? Medicaid seems to love doing business with out of state firms.

Kingfish said...

Just curious. Is there a Medicaid contract that isn't sealed by a protective order?

Anonymous said...

Like the cautionary twaddlings of 4:26. Just needed a /s at the end to be complete.

WHY ARE THE no bid CONTRACTS SEALED?



Anonymous said...

The problem here is hiding public documents. Though not required, they should have received several proposals or bids. Wasn’t there a committee a few years ago formed to clean up these contract procedures when the Epps story broke? Was it just a sham job to save face for our elected officials?

Anonymous said...

The problem here is a “public servant” being wined and dined while on a public salary with public expense reimbursement. No wonder he decided to quickly and quietly move on.

Anonymous said...

In state contracts the companies that bid get protective orders so their competitors cannot get "proprietary " information. Only certain information can be released.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi Republicans despise welfare but are consistently at the front of the Federal Welfare line. 23 million dollar, no bid, contract and MS is only responsible for 3.1 million. Who wants to go through the extra effort of competitive bidding and sifting through the details when you are spending someone else's money?

Anonymous said...

@4:26- Several valid points. Still doesn't excuse a no bid contract for 23 mil

Anonymous said...

5:42, its because the folks that do this work are all out of state. Very few firms provide this work, and are approvable by CMS. You want to compete, you can go start you a firm, but your first contract won't be in a Medicaid state as large as MS. You might eventually beat out one of the two or three firms and get a contract in VT, or ID.

But first, you would have to learn something about Medicaid - your 10th grade IT class aint gonna cut it.

Anonymous said...

2:19, get a life other than kissing KF's ass. The reason that the state and federal investigators aren't doing anything here is because there is nothing for them to do. Investigative? BS. Just because an agency director has a cup of coffee and a scone paid for during a breakfast meeting doesn't rock my boat. And those costs in DC are way below what any reasonable dinner would cost, much less 'entertainment'. Even so - don't know where all that expensive 'whining and dining' that this investigative disclosure has shown anything that would require state, or federal, investigators to waste their time. Their business is catching the crooks, not entertaining the black helicopter masses.

Anonymous said...

"However, the Division changed its tune and said the proposal was an amendment to another contract that was sealed in 2011."

What contract did this amend?

Public never knows about this if Bryant doesn't cancel it.

Anonymous said...

The Division of Medicaid is in the office of the Governor so if there is a problem it's at his feet.

Anonymous said...

@926 the fiscal agent contract Medicaid has with Conduent.

I'm still hungry said...

One thing caught my eye... Walkers Restaurant for $80... must have ordered an app and water with a free peppermint for dessert

Anonymous said...

From the report: "The proposal was approved by CMMS."

For those of who don't know, what/who is CMMS?

Anonymous said...

Cerner is a second rate program anyway...

Anonymous said...

"The problem here is a “public servant” being wined and dined while on a public salary with public expense reimbursement."

You have been misled. People in these appointed positions are landed gentry. They are NOT 'public servants'. They serve themselves in rewarded, plum positions. But you are correct in that they are on public salary and turn in a travel-expense-reimbursement form at least monthly and typically upon return from one of these junkets.

It would be interesting to see whether he also claimed meal reimbursement from the state at the same time meals were being provided free.

Kingfish said...

Nothing was said or implied about anything being illegal. Just showing the inner workings of your government.

Anonymous said...

The higher up the food chain you are in a state agency, the more often you are going to be whined and dined by those pushing contract services, training packages and consultant offerings.

What the hell is so noteworthy or surprising about that?

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