… could we stop with this stuff?
Until Friday, the Carcieri administration had insisted for months that John Stephen and the Lucas Group, the Boston company for which he works, had volunteered their time to the state’s effort to win from the Bush administration a waiver giving it unprecedented freedom in how it spends its Medicaid dollars on health care for the poor, the elderly and the disabled.
A partner in the company, Stephen is a former health and human services commissioner in New Hampshire and failed GOP candidate for Congress. Gary Alexander, who was confirmed by the Senate last Tuesday as Rhode Island’s new chief of health and human services, campaigned for Stephen and helped raise money for him with a fundraiser at his home. …
Not until last Friday, did the Carcieri administration acknowledge the extent of the company’s role. A statement by the governor’s office said: “The Lucas Group requested payments totaling $468,127 for services the company performed in assisting the state on the Global Medicaid Waiver and identifying significant savings initiatives and reforms.”
“After several months of disagreement … [and] intensive mediation facilitated by retired Associate Justice, Richard Israel … the Office of the Governor agreed that even though no formal contract had been signed by the time the waiver was completed, the state did benefit, and payment to the Lucas Group is appropriate under the circumstances.” The agreement appears to have been signed on Thursday by both Alexander and Sasse.
Payment is certainly justified to a company integral to an effort to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars, but with reformers pushing hard for transparency and other initiatives related to open and responsible government, peculiar processes bound up with political insiders do a tremendous amount of damage. Do members of the political class just not see what the rest of us see?