By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, November 29, 2016, State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) questioned twelve contracts for maternity services totaling $71 million that are up for review on Thursday by the Contract Review Committee.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler asked the panel to delay the contracts to determine if there is a less expensive way to provide the services.
The panel meets on Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Alabama Statehouse in room 200. Zeigler has been a frequent critic of the Bentley administration and it’s habit of awarding unbid contracts for a variety of projects and services.
Zeigler said, “Alabama needs an Inspector General of state operations. Since we do not have one, I have begun doing it on my own initiative despite weak legal authority and staff. We are slowly, slowly making some progress toward accountability.”
Zeigler has begun monitoring proposed state contracts to check for what he termed “potential for savings.” Monitoring state contracts is something the State Auditor’s office has never done in the past, but Zeigler says it needs to be done and has taken on that role.
The Contract Review Committee agreed with Zeigler after their September and October meetings and delayed contracts of $1.3 million and $8.3 million for implementation of the controversial Regional Care Organizations plan (RC)). Zeigler has termed the RCO plan “fatally flawed.” The RCO plan was to have gone into effect on October 1 but has been delayed to the 2017-18 fiscal year.
The State of Alabama has negotiated a deal with the US Department of Health and Human Services to switch Medicaid from a Fee For Service (FFS) model where the state is the payer to a health care provider owned managed care model. Now that President Donald J. Trump will be coming to power, many in state government are hopeful that the new administration will block grant the Medicaid money directly to the states. President Trump has nominated US Representative Tom Price (R-Georgia) to head the troubled agency.
Auditor Zeigler predicted that a lack of accountability could become an issue in the 2018 state elections for all statewide constitutional officials and legislators.