A very disturbing change is under way in the operation of a division of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

That division, called the Medical Review Team, consists of a dozen or so clerks and specialists who, along with physician and psychologist consultants, determine whether persons are eligible for MaineCare (Medicaid) on the basis of being disabled. The applicant’s medical records are studied to see if his or her condition meets criteria developed for Social Security Disability, taking into account one’s age, education and work history.

Recently it has become apparent that this work is soon to be outsourced to a Massachusetts provider and the involved Maine state employees are being laid off. It is reported that the out-of-state servicer is being paid $300,000 more per year than it costs to operate the Medical Review Team here. This travesty was reported by the Bangor Daily News a while back, but I have seen no mention of it in MaineToday publications.

How can such a move be justified, especially since the administration prides itself in encouraging businesses to move to Maine and/or to expand here? Should some of the laid-off Medical Review Team staff fill other DHHS openings, that would result in those jobs not being available to others. Thus, there is still a net loss of 12 or so jobs for Maine residents who pay taxes here and contribute to their local economies. It makes no sense.

Charles E. Burden, M.D.