Friday, March 7, 2014
The Alexander Group, the Rhode Island firm conducting the hotly disputed $925,000 study of Maine's public assistance programs has missed its first target deadline.
According to the contract signed by Gary Alexander, the principal of the Alexander Group and former welfare chief in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, the group's Medicaid expansion feasibility study was due Dec. 1. However, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Monday afternoon that the group had not submitted that portion of the study, parts of which are not due until Dec. 20 or next year. John Martins, the spokesman for DHHS, did not provide an explanation for the missed deadline, but has reportedly said that the due date was only a target, not set in stone.
Nonetheless, the missed deadline is feeding widespread criticism of a study that opponents say was designed as a taxpayer-funded validation of reforms that the LePage administration has already embraced or attempted to implement. The expertise of Alexander's firm -- which according to the contract appears to be located at his home address -- has also come under scrutiny for employing staff that have little or no experience as actuaries or professionals who can evaluate complex health insurance programs like Medicaid.
Meanwhile, Alexander's reform efforts in Pennsylvania have been heavily criticized, including in an auditor general report that found the former welfare chief cost taxpayers $8 million last year.
Alexander has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.