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Posts from the ‘Department of Health and Human Services’ Category


Dems say governor went to Husker games, ribbon-cuttings, rather than address HHS audit

State Dems continue to beat up on Gov. Dave Heineman in the wake of the scathing state audit of his administration’s handling of child welfare reform.

Today, the Dems put out this press release, detailing All the Things the Governor did Rather Than Address the Audit:

After Governor Dave Heineman was caught lying about his office not receiving an early copy of the recent child welfare services audit, further research gives a better idea of what he was doing during that time.

Here are just a few of the items Governor Heineman thought were more important than reading about how his administration wasted millions of taxpayer dollars in overpayments.

1. PHOTO OPS: He attend five ribbon cutting ceremonies during the first week he had the report.
2. FOOTBALL: He attend two Nebraska Cornhusker Football games during the time he had the report.
3. TOOK IT EASY: He had three days with no public schedule during the week of August 1st.
4. ART: He gave remarks at the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Calendar Art Contest Award Ceremony on August 9.
5. MORE PHOTO OPS: He spoke to a couple of Rotary Clubs and participated in another ribbon cutting during the week of August 22.
6. ANOTHER PHOTO OP: Found time to give remarks to four different groups during the week of August 29 – and found time for yet another ribbon cutting ceremony.
7. KICKING BACK: Had at least nine weekdays during the stretch with nothing on his public calendar.
8. PETRIFIED: He gave remarks to the Petrified Wood Gallery Facility Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in Ogallala on July 29.
9. PLAYING POLITICS: He did a Radio call-in show at KFOR 1240 AM on August 9th, but made no mention of the enormous problems exposed in the audit.
10. GOT A FREE MEAL: Had a nice dinner aboard the Ak-Sar-Ben Express Union Pacific Train at the Durham Museum on August 12.

Email correspondence shows that Kerry Winterer, the Governor’s appointed CEO of the Department of Health and Human Services, received an advanced copy of the report on the evening of July 25 and shared that with members of the Governor’s Office, including Chief of Staff Larry Bare, the following morning. The Governor had previously said his office did not receive the advanced report.

“Between the 25 ceremonial events he attended, he had ample time to either read the report or get a briefing from his staff,” said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. “He spent another week of deafening silence after the audit was made public, all so he could do what he should have been doing all along – reading the report.”

When the Governor’s lies were exposed in the Omaha World Herald, his spokesperson, Jen Rae Hein declined to say whether the Governor had read the draft report or what his response was to the findings. Instead of answering the question, she just said those asking the questions were playing “politics.”

Yet, the Governor has found all kinds of time to play politics himself recently, pushing for a change in how Nebraska allocates electoral votes. The Governor wants to change the system to winner-take-all because he believes that system would benefit his political party.

“While the Governor was saying that we were being political, he found the time to talk about moving Nebraska to winner take all,” Rogers said. “It begs the question, who is being political now? It sounds to me like he is trying to divert attention from the disaster he created at Health and Human Services.”


Dems pound gov for hiring Taco Bell, Wal-Mart workers for child welfare

The state Democratic Party continues to pound away on the governor for the failures cited in a recent state audit of the state’s attempt to reform and privatize child welfare in Nebraska.

The Dems put out the following press release today:

One of the many tragedies of the Governor’s Child Welfare Services debacle is that unqualified individuals were hired to provide important services for foster children.

According to the recent auditor’s report, two subcontractors were found to be using workers who lacked appropriate credentials to provide client services. Those employees “had neither a Bachelor’s Degree nor a staff equivalency petition approved by the DHHS service area contract liaison, as required by the service contracts. The immediate prior employment of two workers had been at Taco Bell and Wal-Mart – neither of which is an establishment known to offer extensive training in the field of child welfare services.“

DHHS was supposed to provide approval for subcontractor hires, but they did so in a “perfunctory” fashion. Additionally, Governor Heineman told the Lincoln Journal Star earlier this week that “we can’t expect government to be the parent, and it’s very unfortunate that we are involved in these situations.”Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party said that statement, coupled with the actions of the administration, show a callous attitude toward foster children.

“Does Heineman really not believe the state has an obligation to protect the lives and well-being of innocent children who aren’t able to get proper support in their homes?,” Rogers said. “Most Nebraskans agree that despite parental failings or hardships, innocent children should not be neglected. And we shouldn’t be hiring people who are unqualified to provide these specialized child services.”

The uncredentialed employees were paid $10.50 or $13.00 per hour. At the same time, DHHS was reimbursing the direct contractor for the work of those same employees at a rate of $47 per hour. That means the contractors profited enormously from paying unqualified staff wages much lower than what would have been required to retain qualified workers.

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