In an era when Texas government is supposed to be efficient, cost-effective and mindful of taxpayer dollars, a miracle to be emulated by other states thanks to the Perry administration, the media continues to uncover incredible betrayals of public trust and misuse of public funds at HHSC. Thank god for the media.
Friday it was revealed by both the Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle that at least two HHSC staff had their college tuition paid for out of the HHSC budget – a budget that is there to provide for disadvantaged children and seniors, and taken grudgingly from the hard-won earnings of those Texans better off.
Aide given $97,000 for college
Worse, this gross betrayal was known about and condoned by Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek. In fact, Casey Haney, his Deputy Chief of Staff, was the main recipient. Haney already getting paid $159,075, was given $97,020 for his MBA tuition at the University of Texas – no strings attached. Haney was a former aide of both Janek and the now-disgraced Jack Stick in their legislative days. Nice to have connections.
No strings attached
Here are some other questions. What guarantee did HHSC have that Haney wouldn’t pack up and leave for the private sector once he got his MBA a la Jack Stick – Stick is alleged to have been setting himself up for a jump to an executive position at 21CT before he resigned? And did Haney also attend classes when he was being paid to sit at a desk?
Why does HHSC have such a program?
Even more startling was the revelation that this tuition entitlement violated HHSC policy on paying for tuition for its employees. What? How in the heck does any state agency provide such a perk at taxpayer expense? Talk about pigging out at the trough. On questioning from the media, Janek has now stated that he has wanted to change the program so that employees pay half the tuition and “have some skin in the game.” Hey, how about ending that entitlement program altogether as a cost saving measure and a break for taxpayers!
Medicaid providers are expected to take low reimbursement rates and Medicaid patients for altruistic reasons.
As their reward, HHSC and its OIG can then come in and investigate them and, to date, deny their due process rights, ruin their reputations and practices while punishing them financially without having to prove a single allegation – like shaking down a dentist for $4 million for not recording toothbrush instructions in a file although the service to his Medicaid patients was exemplary.
Shame on Kyle Janek!