By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Blowback is a term coined by the CIA to mean the unintended consequences of a covert operations. By this the CIA meant that bad things happened to the people that were trying to help them, never is this more true than in politics.
Yesterday’s disclosure of the governor’s private meeting on the Alabama Healthcare Exchange has led to blowback all over the Capitol.
There was just barely time for the morning coffee to get cold before cell phones and emails were lighting up in Montgomery and across the state.
It was not about the fact that the administration was preparing to spend $50 million dollars to create a healthcare exchange. It was not about an administration who tells Alabamians that they oppose Obamacare but has been busy building it out for over a year. No it was about who knew what and who leaked it to the media. The fact is no one except me will ever know who those people were. It has been my experience that every time politicians try to guess who leaked what they are usually wrong because as smart as politicians can be they usually don’t see the people who just want good government and not headline glory.
Since reporting we have receive emails and phone calls that have added to the report.
As an individual who was a former administration insider said, “Is this is type of transparency the people were promised? We have people making hundreds of thousands of dollars building a health exchange but we are told, no we’re not building a healthcare exchange.”
This individual supplied us with they pay records of the people who the Governor’s office say are heading up the exchange. Two of them are Richard Fiore and Kathleen Healey. Fiore who has the job title, Director of the Alabama Insurance Exchange has been paid $92,324.51 so far this year. Mr. Fiore who no one outside the governor’s office seems to know has spent $7,843.74 on travel outside of Alabama so far this year.
Fiore is listed as being paid by the Alabama Department of Insurance, yet his job title is that of director of a Alabama Healthcare Exchange that the public is told does not exists.
Ms. Healey who has no job title we are aware of has received compensation so far this year totaling $77,110.45. Healey worked for the Department of Insurance until 2/14/2012 but is now listed as being paid by the Governor’s office. However, Healey’s over $5000.00 in out of state travel is still being paid for by the insurance department.
So, who is paying Fiore and Healey to build Alabama’s healthcare exchange, it certainly does not appear it is the Federal Government as lawmakers have been led to believe.
The former insider says that former Medicaid Director Robert Mullins submitted millions for contract review, all of which were to be for the Alabama Healthcare Exchange. Yet, Mr. Fiore said in the governor’s private meeting that only a faction of the approximately $9 million given by the feds had been spent.
A search of openalabama.gov the website that is suppose to make transparent state spending has no listing for a healthcare exchange that we can find.
While other lawmakers have expressed deep concerns that the administration wants to spend $50 million dollars of what “they refer to as free money.”
Saying, “There are those around the governor who want to spend $50 million dollars of taxpayer money to build a website and spin it by saying ‘We’ll tell the public we are protecting them from Obamacare.’”
It seems that spinning it for public consumption is more important than informing the public.
During the Monday meeting the governor was advised to follow the lead of other republican governors. “Every time it was suggested that the governor follow the lead of Bobby Jindal or other republican governors who are resisting Obamacare, the answer was, ‘Oh, they are doing that because they want to be Romney’s VP.’”
Yet, the blowback has been aimed at the media and other republicans.
On Monday a meeting was held at the highest levels of state government where the future of Alabama’s healthcare and how to spend $50 million dollars was discuss and yet the only concern has been who said what to whom.
Truth like water will always find a way over, under, around or through, it will get out.