UE Helps Block Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa
An outcry by union members and other concerned citizens blocked
implementation of the so-called Iowa Plan for Integrated Access, which would have handed
child-welfare services and millions of taxpayers dollars over to private, for-profit
agencies. UE Local 893-IUP members fear the plan will eliminate their jobs.
State human services officials said they will delay plans to hire a
private firm to oversee state-financed mental health, substance abuse and child welfare
services. Originally the state intended to select a contractor by Dec. 31 for a contract
effective July 1, 1998. No new date has been set.
Legislators heard numerous concerns raised by union members and
child-welfare advocates. "Ive been inundated with a lot of phone calls and
meetings from people all over the state," said House Speaker Ron Corbett. A Cedar
Rapids Republican, Corbett publicly questioned the state Human Services departments
haste in implementing the plan.
At a meeting with Rep. Corbett on Oct. 31, Local 893 Pres. Dan Kelley and
Joe Fleming, a Cedar Rapids UE member, forcefully reiterated the unions concerns.
The union representatives had what Pres. Kelley termed "a frank exchange" with
the Speaker of the House.
UE leaders credit the quick response of Local 893 members for extending
the comment period. The union quickly caught the ear of several key legislators, including
House Speaker Corbett. UE leaders met with Candice Nardini, project director of the mental
health access plan for the Iowa Human Services Dept. and expressed concerns regarding the
draft of the proposal.
Nardini said the Human Services Dept. intends to push ahead with plans to
use managed-care contractors to administer mental health and substance abuse dollars
(approximately $145 million). But she said there is now question about the $35 million
child welfare/juvenile justice dollars.
The state official pledged that the union would be advised of further
developments and awarded a seat on the advisory board.
'PLAN WOULD EMBOSS
THE ROBBER BARONS'
Plan would embarrass the robber barons," says Local 893 Pres. Dan Kelley. The union
leader points out that the private company is guaranteed a 15 percent profit $27
million on a total budget of $180 million plus bonuses. The bonuses are based on
reducing costs. In other words, Kelley says, "They get rewarded by denying services.
The more they say no, children dont need services, the richer they
"This is the welfare system turned on its head," Kelley says.
UE Local 893 is urging members to keep the pressure on legislators and the
Human Services Dept. to remove child welfare/juvenile justice dollars from the plan. If
managed care will be used for mental health and substance abuse dollars, union leaders
say, there must be changes in the state contract with the private management group. The
union intends a petition and postcard campaign to protest the continued use of managed
care and other forms of privatization which hurt clients and eliminate state workers