Democrats Irked By DHHS Commissioner Snub 

Some Maine lawmakers are questioning a decision by the LePage administration to hire an outside consultant, The Alexander Group, to review the state’s Medicaid program. They were hoping to hear from the DHHS Commissioner Tuesday, but that didn’t happen.

Lawmakers on the Health and Human Services Committee met in Augusta to talk about a number of issues. Among the topics, The Alexander Group, a controversial consulting firm has been contracted to examine the cost of expanding Medicaid in Maine and to take an overall look at Maine’s welfare programs to try to find efficiencies.

The committee wanted to hear from Mayhew, but she was a no-show. Instead the department submitted a series of answers in writing. Democrats on the committee want to know why the roughly $1-million contract was given to the consultant with no public bidding process.

“If they had gone to a public bidding process, we would have known that they were seeking these kinds of services before the contract was entered into. in this case. The contract was entered into in September. We didn’t even find out about it until November,” said Westbrook Democrat Drew Gattine.

We caught up with Governor LePage earlier in the day. He said it was unnecessary for Mayhew or anyone else from his administration to be there.

“I mean they have the report,” LePage said. “If they need teaching, someone to help them read it, that’s a different ballgame. I can send an English teacher or something if they need it. But as far as understanding it, it’s written in English. They can agree or disagree. That’s what it is.”

Republicans on the committee had no problem with Mayhew not being there since they were provided information about the contract.

“Having our department heads who have a lot of work on their plate sitting in our committee room waiting for our pleasure to be heard is a phenomenal waste of state resources,” said Chelsea Republican Deb Sanderson. “Besides that, it seems like every effort to save money, to consolidate programs, to try to roll back a lot of things, is immediately rejected by the Democrats.”

Other matters discussed by the committee included the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital, which recently lost $20-million in federal funding. And a rides program for Medicaid patients that’s had problems since switching to a new system in August.