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Service Employees Outraged Over Rendell Spending

Local 668 says work could be done in-house

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Service Employees International Union, which represents workers across Pennsylvania in the County Assistance Offices, described Governor Rendell's plan to pay an out-of-state university to search the Department of Public Welfare's database for Medicaid recipients as "a waste of valuable tax dollars."

"The amount of money this administration has agreed to pay for these services is simply shocking," said Kathy Jellison, President of SEIU Local 668, "In the midst of a budget crisis, Governor Rendell is contracting out work that could be done in-house at the County Assistance Offices. To pay an outside agency anywhere from $200 to $700 or more to locate one Medicaid recipient who has Medicare coverage or may be eligible for Medicare is an outrage. This could be done by hiring county assistance workers at a fraction of the cost."

"This is the latest in a laundry list of foolish and costly decisions by an administration that seems willing to spare no expense to minimize the state workforce. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been given to one consulting firm in the mistaken belief that they could find the magical solution to getting all of the work done with a minimal amount of staff. The truth the public should know is their tax dollars have bought computer process for County Assistance Offices that either slows to a crawl or comes to a grinding halt for extended periods of time virtually every work day."

"SEIU Local 668 has pleaded with this administration to end the practice of hospitals hiring private companies to handle Medicaid applications for uninsured patients. The compensation these financial firms receive for their services is a significant percentage of the payment made to hospitals following the approval of government paid benefits. In other words, the bigger the bill, the bigger the payment to the financial firms. These are taxpayer dollars specifically designated for healthcare going into the hands of for-profit companies. We've repeatedly proposed having our members work directly with professionals in medical facilities to implement strategies guaranteed to save millions of dollars per year in healthcare costs."

"Our state government and an ever increasing number of citizens are facing a serious financial crisis. Pennsylvania needs a strategy that guarantees taxpayers their dollars are being spent as efficiently as possible. We must make sure that taxpayer funded benefits are going only to those in need, but we also need to have a reliable process in place to prevent thousands in the middle class from slipping into poverty. Our collective experience shows we can best meet these goals via face-to-face interaction between our members and those seeking help from the government. The history of failed experiments in welfare programs, such as those in Texas and Indiana, proves nothing is gained and a great deal is lost by trusting outside interests to do what is best for our citizens."

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