Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Question of Privatization

In the last hours of the 2009 Legislative session, the legislature passed an amendment to reduce DSPD’s budget by $600,000. Last week, DSPD supervisors and directors met to discuss their options. Many employees were aware of the deliberations. Subsequently, the supervisors decided to release minutes from the meeting outlining options that included converting line staff at DSPD to private coordinators.

Members immediately notified UPEA about the issue and media called to find out what was going on. As of now, the privatization issue is a proposal in its early stages. UPEA does not believe DSPD can be privatized without legislative action. However, UPEA is scheduling meetings with DHS and the governor’s office to assess the situation. Here is what we know, directly from Lisa-Michelle Church’s office:

  • During the past few years, an increasing number of Disabilities caseworkers (support coordinators) have opted to leave the agency and work as private caseworker providers. Medicaid regulations and Division of Services for People with Disabilities’ rule authorize this option. Since September 2008, 25 Division employed support coordinators quit to become private support coordinators. The Division is in the process of determining whether accelerating the trend toward private support coordination makes sense in light of the budget cuts.
  • No decisions have been made in terms of level or a time line for privatizing the support coordination services. The Division’s focus is on preservation of services within the fiscal constraints and mainlining quality of service.
    The Division is looking at the possibility of privatizing support coordination services due to a 2.8 million dollar general fund budget. Medicaid requirements allow any willing provider to participate. The state would be following national trends toward privatizing these services.
  • In the planning process, the Division will be engaging various stakeholders. We recognize employees are anxious as we move forward with the discussions but this should not be interpreted as privatization so much as balancing the “any willing provider” portion of Medicaid against fiscal limits presented by budget cuts.

UPEA opposes privatization because it would reduce or eliminate employee benefits and decrease services to the public it serves. We will update employees as we find out more.