HHSC Has A Costly History of Botched Contract Management

budgetWith the Attorney General of Texas filing suit against Xerox and the Health and Human Services Commission publicly washing its hands of the Fortune 500 company as lead contractor in the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership, Xerox now joins dental Medicaid providers “under the bus” as part of the state-alleged conspiracy to defraud and bilk hundreds of millions of Medicaid dollars from the state by approving and providing orthodontic care to poor children.

Not the first company thrown “under the bus”

It is not the first time HHSC has thrown a contractor “under the bus.” And it is not the first time, HHSC has blamed a contractor for HHSC’s own deficiencies. As dental Medicaid providers know with the orthodontic claims, three administrative law judges (Harlingen Family Dentistry and Antoine Dental cases)  have so far agreed that the orthodontic spending spree in Texas had more to do with the state’s own Medicaid policy than provider misdeeds.

Back in January, 2006, HHSC Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins prematurely launched a new privatized system to screen and enroll low income families into government programs. The $893 million project, the largest privatization scheme in state history at that time, massively flopped. Four privately-run call centers were to take over and eliminate the need for several thousand government employees and a number of government offices around the state. The plan was touted to be a private sector miracle to save the taxpayers of Texas some $600 million. Within 20 months, the contract was cancelled and the situation ended up costing tens of millions to fix, not to mention outraging Texans and the federal government.

Blamed the contractor

Hawkins blamed the private contractor.  He said he was given assurances they were ready to proceed.  Yet, the company said it told Hawkins it wasn’t ready – that there were problems that needed to be fixed before the system could launch.  Sound familiar to what is occurring today?

Which was the company blamed by Hawkins?  None other than Accenture, the company that now takes the place of Xerox as lead contractor in TMHP.    Hawkins went on to be reappointed by Governor Perry.

What goes around, comes around.

The trials and tribulations of the Hawkins project are outlined in this excellent 2007  Texas Observer article.


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