Monday, July 25, 2011

It's Not Your Father's Passport

Passport is the name of a NON-profit agency, set up in the '90s by a group of Louisville hospitals and doctors, to manage the state's medicaid program in 16 counties centered on Louisville.

It has been much in the news recently, and I suspect will be in the weeks ahead. First, state auditor Crit Luallen issued a scathing report last year over the agency's lavish use of funds for trips, gifts, salaries, and more. 3 top officials resigned. Passport was even using public funds to lobby the state for more and higher rates--to be paid for by public funds--strictly a No-No.

These were not the only problems her report indicated, and this week one other shoe dropped. This non profit made so much money from its state contract that it paid "dividends" to its founders. One reason for those payments was so it could plead "poor mouth" to the state for additional fees from public funds! As reported by the Courier-Journal, Attorney General Jack Conway ruled such "dividends" illegal for a NON-profit to make and negotiated a deal for over $26 millions to be repaid.

One hospital repaid at once, the rest have been given up to four years to do so--Conway said it might work a financial hardship--but in my book that just gives them more time to hang on to money they shouldn't have had in the first place..and you KNOW they will earn interest on it!

The U of L hospital said they had seen no reason why the original "seed money" they put into Passport should not have been returned to them. If the law on non-profits does not permit this, the law should be changed; but anything in excess of the original infusion should not be. Atty. Gen. Conway is right on this.

Conway also said this ended his "civil" probe of Passport, but he wouldn't comment on whether a "criminal" probe might go on. Let's hope so.

And let's hope Gov. Beshear revokes his recent decision to give Passport even more public funds, and a new contract, to carry out even more management of the medicaid program. Surely after the auditor's report, and the attorney-general's findings, Passport has forfeited all rights to continuing to hold state business.

Two other points need to be made..(1) Thank God for Crit Luallen; she has been a great state auditor..and needs to be retained. But, term limits forbid more reason why I do not favor term limits, on any office.

This position of state auditor doesn't get the attention of the media or voters during the campaign; which is going on now. I hope this year will be different, and hope our two major papers will be especially vigilant in covering the campaigns of the candidates--and who they endorse.

(2) If Passport made so much money, did they scrimp on serving better those who truly need the services of medicaid? Why do we think a state agency couldn't have done as well, if not better? An in-house agency would have been audited sooner, and the abuses found at Passport would likely not have happened within a state agency.

Or did some money or political favors get exchanged back when Passport was formed, or over the years? There really should be a criminal probe.

And, governor, you really ought to take back that contract you just gave this faulty group and find a new, even a state agency to handle medicaid around Louisville.

I'm just sayin'...

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