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Friday, July 15, 2005

626 million a year and I can't find out how it being spent?

That's what the Deaprtment of Social Services is saying to the taxpayers. They give 626 million dollars to health care maintenance organizations but you or I are not allowed to know how that money is bring spent.

If this sounds unfair, you're not the only one. From today's Hartford Courant
The dispute began when a group of New Haven clinics noticed that their patients were having trouble getting appointments with private cardiologists and gastroenterologists to treat heart or digestive problems.

Clinic operators suspected that the HMOs were paying such low rates for their patients covered by Medicaid that private doctors would not accept them.

The clinic operators, led by Kari Hartwig, an assistant clinical professor in the Yale School of Public Health, asked the state Department of Social Services to disclose the rates its contractor HMOs pay specialists for treating Medicaid patients.

The state refused. The Department of Social Services administers the Medicaid program and contracts with four HMOs to provide care for 311,000 children and their parents covered by the state-paid Husky health insurance, which is part of Medicaid.

"The Department of Social Services is responsible for ensuring the health of the population as a government function," Hartwig said. "They should be able to give us the information."


Social service officials claimed that the Medicaid HMO rate information is not kept on file at the department offices, and thus not subject to release under the state's Freedom of Information Act.

"The records that they are seeking, we don't have," said David Dearborn, a spokesman for the Department of Social Services. "If we did have them, they would become public information."

The dispute has landed at the state Freedom of Information Commission, which has been asked to decide if the HMOs are performing a government function or are simply private contractors supplying a service to the state.

Blumenthal, a frequent critic of government privatization and an advocate for open government and better access to health care, said in his July 7 letter to Rell that "compelling arguments" can be made for releasing the information. "The DSS position appears to be directly contrary to your stated intention to `cast the brightest spotlight possible' on the state's procurement of goods and services."

The claim from DSS that they don't have the records therefore they don't have to release it doesn't stand up to the smell test. Hopefully, this situation goes to court because something doesn't seem right and when you have that much money being spent, you should know how it is being spent. As taxpayer's it's YOUR money