The Texas Tribune this morning reported that former Texas governor Rick Perry is now the chief strategy officer over at MCNA, one of the two managed care organizations Texas now employs to handle Medicaid dental. It is Perry’s first employment position after his recently ended run for President. It turns out that MCNA was the largest political contributor to his campaign – giving $37,800 directly to the campaign and another $20,000 to “Texans for Rick Perry,” his state political action committee.
UPDATE: Perry has registered as a lobbyist in Florida and has already met with Florida governor Rick Scott about expanding MCNA’s role in Medicaid in Florida.
It also turns out that former Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Albert Hawkins is on MCNA’s board of directors too.
Managed care and MCNA brought in over Medicaid ortho mess to replace TMHP/Xerox
MCNA along with Dentaquest and Delta Dental were originally brought in to manage Texas Medicaid dental programs in the wake of the titanic orthodontic spending controversy that erupted in 2011 alleging massive fraud by dentists and orthodontists.
This, of course, is the situation that also spawned TDMR to defend dentists and Texas dentistry against those wrongful allegations and the lack of due process they were being accorded by the state.
To briefly recap, it had been lost in the thunder that each and every orthodontic treatment request had received prior authorization from TMHP (Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership), then headed by Xerox/ACS before the work was done.
It eventually surfaced that the state had learned about serious deficiencies in the Xerox prior authorization process in 2008 and did nothing to rectify the matter. It turned out that Xerox had the requests being reviewed by individuals who had no dental training and worked from home, and who would simply add up the HLD scores to ensure they totalled 26 or more. An individual Xerox “dental specialist” could apparently approve over 150 requests a day and they did so because they were paid based on their production.
Dentists, of course, assumed their prior authorization requests were being reviewed by a dental professional to ensure the request qualified and that the prior authorization approval meant something.
In fact, they were led to believe this. Dr Linda Altenhoff, the current HHSC Inspector General dental director, told an orthodontic dental stakeholders meeting in 2009 that providers should assume their requests were being reviewed by a “board certified orthodontist.”
Dentists have sued both Xerox and the state over the allegations.
Media alleges cronyism against the Perry administration and Xerox
Allegations of cronyism between Xerox and the Perry administration surfaced in Texas media and were made national in the New York Times in early 2014. It also came out that Xerox had spent some seven million dollars in lobbying the Texas legislature since 2004.
Xerox has denied all the claims.
MCNA invited to TDMR sponsored seminar but no response to repeated invitations
Representatives of both MCNA and Dentaquest were invited to speak to dental providers at the TDMR-sponsored healthcare compliance seminar held in south Texas last February.
Brenda Walker, Dentaquest’s Regional Director for Provider Relations, graciously accepted and providers were happy to meet with her to discuss issues.
MCNA did not return calls or emails.
We wish Gov. Perry well and hope he can help make MCNA more responsive to such invitations in the future.