Our View: Governor, legislature must take serious action to fix DHS

If for no other reason than to stop this insane hemorrhaging of our tax dollars (which has soared to well over $100 million), as concerned taxpayers, we should demand that our state lawmakers seriously address the massive problems within the state’s most expensive bureaucracy – DHS – regarding its failed attempt at managing this so-called private option and other government subsidized programs for the hundreds of thousands of “poor” Arkansans depending on Medicaid. We should all be absolutely sick and tired of hearing about inept management within the state Department of Human Services and its grossly mishandling of a project that is suppose to manage the Medicaid eligibility and enrollment system. Let us remind those of you who may have not paid all that much attention to this massive problem — this DHS project was originally budgeted at $108 million, but the estimated cost has ballooned to $220 million simply because of mismanagement. Bear in mind that $220 million doesn’t include another $450,000 (almost a half million dollars) to acquire a study report in fixing the DHS blunders by a Stanford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., hired for the sole purpose to assess the messed up enrollment system project. And, it doesn’t include another $750,000 Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants lawmakers to approve to use Gartner Inc. to help with the solicitation of a so-called systems integrator as well as for a company to handle information-systems support. So then, and with that said, just exactly what are we talking about as it relates to the complexity of the situation? This failed and costly system was to deal with the state’s $7.3 BILLION Medicaid program, including the so-called private-option expansion and cost-containment measures, and it has been an absolute disaster. We’re talking about something that was designed to handle enrollment and eligibility for about 600,000 recipients, including low-income adults and children, whose eligibility is governed by rules that were designed by no other than President Obama’s bureaucratic cronies in Washington. In all fairness, Gov. Hutchinson is doing is darndest to address this seemingly out-of-control mess and hopefully this latest directive to DHS to pause further development of this failed system until a workable solution can be found will, at least, stop the financial hemorrhaging. Meanwhile, it is of utmost importance that every elected lawmaker in Little Rock makes this issue a priority when they gather for their session in the Legislature next year. First of all, let’s all admit to the fact the state’s DHS leadership failed miserably in this endeavor and it is only appropriate that necessary changes are being made from the top down. This has been an injustice to the thousands of people DHS provides services to as well as the taxpayers of Arkansas who have been burdened with the costs.

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