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UE Helps Block Iowa
Privatization Scheme

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.

'INUNDATED'

Legislators heard numerous concerns raised by union members and child-welfare advocates. "I’ve 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 department’s 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 union’s 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'

"The Iowa 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 don’t need services,’ the richer they get."

"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’ jobs.

UE News - 11/97


Home -> UE News -> 1997 Archives -> Article

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