News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121
March 13, 2007

Statement from Senator Judith Zaffirini Regarding Texas' Withdrawal from Accenture Health Services Contract

(AUSTIN) -- "Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins' announcement of the state's gradual withdrawal from its health and social services contract with Accenture's Texas Access Alliance comes with little surprise, considering the problems that have plagued Texas health services for years. Since the initiation of Accenture's contract, independent audits, investigations by the Comptroller's staff and reports from eligible persons who were denied services revealed Accenture's growing list of problems.

"Throughout the contract's span, enrollment in CHIP and Children's Medicaid experienced sharp declines due to Accenture's mismanagement of records and documentation. Accenture continuously was behind schedule in updating records and organizing call centers, resulting in the names of children and persons eligible for state social services literally disappearing from enrollment data. What's more, the Comptroller's investigation revealed that Accenture constantly was over budget.

"I was saddened to learn of the recent death of Devante Johnson, a 14-year old cancer patient who was dropped indefensibly from Medicaid enrollment, demonstrating the extreme crisis afflicting the state's Medicaid and CHIP eligibility system. I truly hope that the ensuing transition from Accenture's contract does not further disrupt and prevent persons from seeking health services eligibility.

"I repeatedly expressed my concerns and ardent opposition to privatizing these important social and health services, which is one of the reasons I voted against House Bill 2292 (2003). Today's announcement sends a clear message that Texas no longer will tolerate unnecessary and unreasonable gaps that tremendously hinder access to state health services for children and low-income families.

"Access to children's health programs through CHIP and Children's Medicaid and providing quality health and human services for all Texas families are among my highest legislative priorities. Since December, 2005, privatization caused significant losses in Children's Medicare and CHIP enrollment. This clearly is unacceptable. The damage has been done and must be repaired swiftly.

"This session I filed SB 769, which would improve significantly the processes by which state agencies solicit, negotiate, enter into and manage contracts with vendors. Specifically, this important legislation would subject major contracts such as Accenture's to a robust review process prior to approval by using Governmental in Nature (GIN) analysis by the state's Council on Competitive Government and a full and fair cost comparison.

"SB 769 would establish a stronger, more stringent review process prior to a contract's approval and ensure that outsourced activities would be performed at the highest quality level by contractors. Had these safeguards been in place before the Accenture contract, we could have prevented this debacle."

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