STATEMENT FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2007
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385

Texas' Withdrawal from Accenture's Health Services Contract

AUSTIN, TX -- "It comes one year and nine months too late, but the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) finally announced today that it will end a key contract with the private consulting firm, Accenture's Texas Access Alliance.

The state contracted with the company in June 2005 to oversee the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and assist with the enrollment of Texans in other key health and human services programs.

The pathway to the privatization of these services was paved in 2003 with the passage of House Bill 2292. This bill directed HHSC to save as much money as possible and provided them with the flexibility needed to outsource key functions. I voted against HB 2292 because I did not feel that the administration of programs like CHIP and Medicaid should be subjected to uncertainty. When it comes to basic human rights like child health, people must come first.

Since its inception, problems with the contract have been constant. Families across the state were told their CHIP applications were lost, children were left unable to visit the doctor and no one accepted accountability. When it comes to health and human services and our children, privatization should never work in concert with spending reductions.

State employees have a long and proven track record for providing high quality and effective services. Unfortunately, decisions made in 2003 devalued some of our most loyal state employees by jeopardizing 2,500 positions, and the result has been disastrous.

Unfortunately, this decision comes too late for many Texas families. However, the state has an opportunity to learn from this experience, reinstate its commitment to crucial services and serve children and families through key programs like CHIP and Medicaid."

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