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Farm Bill Provision Will Disrupt MaineCare Program
Date:2/29/2008

Over 40 million Needy Children and Adults to be Affected Nationwide, Study

Expects

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A survey released today by Spectrum Science Communications states that a little known anti-privatization measure in the current farm bill would critically harm Maine's ability to effectively administer its MaineCare program. The measure, offered as an amendment to the House-passed Farm Bill by Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA), would restrict all states from using non-profits and other private organizations in the administration of public assistance programs.

Over 40 million needy children and adults would be affected by the disruptions in service that would occur if the federal government takes away states' ability to partner with private firms and non-profit groups. Among those who would be affected are over 14 million enrollees in the Medicaid and The State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), 26 million food stamp recipients, and 1.9 million participants in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

"This provision will severely hamper the administration of hundreds of social services programs in the U.S., affecting 310,000 recipients of MaineCare," said Audrey Spolarich of Spectrum Science Communications.

The Spectrum study found that states such as Maine rely on non-government organizations to assist in the administration of many means-tested social service programs. In Maine, a commercial firm provides Web administration for the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Program to over 25,000 Maine residents. A private contractor works with the state of Maine to process and deliver benefits associated with it's ASPIRE (Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment) program, which provides assistance and work opportunities to an average of nearly 27,000 Mainers each month.

"As someone who has had to administer these programs to recipients, I can tell you first-hand how adversely impacted state governments will be if this provision passes," said former South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges. "In South Carolina and other states, important services like Medicaid and Child Support Enforcement depend on commercial and non-profit support. We can't let Washington play politics with the administration of these vital programs."

All 50 states and the District of Columbia rely on non-profit and commercial organizations to assist in the process of administering means- tested programs, according to the study. A total of 309 social services programs in the United States are administered by private organizations, 207 of which involve private contracts for direct beneficiary services.

The Baca amendment (Section 4015) specifically requires that only state employees be involved in any part of the process of administering food stamps to beneficiaries. States will not be able to opt out of this anti- privatization measure, even if outsourced programs have been more cost- effective and resulted in more enrolled beneficiaries in their states.

The provision "would deprive states of needed flexibility, remove a significant means of innovation, bring to a halt many valuable programs now in place," said Larry Goolsby Director of Legislative Affairs for the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), a nonprofit, bipartisan organization of state and local human service agencies.

The Baca amendment is not included in the Senate version of the farm bill. The House and Senate must reconcile their versions of the bill before the President can sign a measure into law.

About Spectrum Science Communications

Spectrum is the leading health-only communications practice among public relations firms in Washington, DC, employing more than 50 staff members, and serving pharmaceutical, biotechnology, patient advocacy, hospital and medical society clients throughout the U.S.

Spectrum Science Communications is committed to achieving the goals of clients who are involved with issues, products, provider services or research in life or human health sciences. The agency provides health product marketing public relations, health public affairs, strategic Internet communications, and design services. More information can be found at http://www.spectrumscience.com.


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SOURCE Spectrum Science Communications
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