AZPIA Files Lawsuit To Halt Betsey Bayless’ Misuse of Maricopa County Taxpayer Funds

Moves Violate Constitution, Benefit Another County,  and Jeopardize Support for Healthcare District

(MESA, Ariz.)  An increasingly influential public interest group, Arizona Public Integrity Alliance (AZPIA), has filed suit in Maricopa County Superior Court alleging that Betsey Bayless has or is about to illegally give away $10 million of Maricopa County taxpayer funds to a private entity.

Bayless is the CEO of the Maricopa County Special Health Care District (District), which does business under the name Maricopa Integrated Health Systems (MIHS).  AZPIA has had success impacting local politics and public policy and is now challenging Bayless’ misconduct.

The District infamously spiked Bayless’ salary last New Year’s Eve, from $375,000 to half a million dollars.  The spike occurred despite her pending retirement, drawing the ire of media and taxpayers alike.

“The New Year’s Eve salary spike was outrageous, but not illegal.  However, the subsequent activities by MIHS to flagrantly disregard its voter-approved mission and invest $10 million to displace an award-winning private sector provider of behavioral health services was the last straw,” said Pace Ellsworth with AZPIA.

In its bid proposal for the three-year contract to serve as the Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) for Geographic Service Area 6 which includes Maricopa and parts of Pinal County, MIHS promised $10 million for its joint venture with Southwest Catholic Healthcare Network (d/b/a Mercy Care), to form and fund the entity called Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care (MMIC).

“Taxpayers authorized the District to provide certain services within Maricopa County.  This isn’t one of them,” Ellsworth said. Furthermore, the District is actually proposing to use Maricopa County Taxpayer funds to serve parts of Pinal County.

“Obamacare is so distasteful because it crowds out the effectiveness and efficiency of the private sector for a government takeover.  And that’s what is starting to happen now with MIHS.  They must not be allowed to stray from their core mission and the trust taxpayers have placed in them,” Ellsworth said.  He also called the use of Maricopa County taxpayer dollars to benefit Pinal County healthcare “outrageous.”

“Maricopa County voters would never have taxed themselves knowing of these plans and abuses. And they won’t pass further support for the District if they insist on proceeding,” Ellsworth said.

AZPIA attorney, Chris LaVoy, said this is a  plain violation of Arizona law and a serious misuse of taxpayer funds.

“We are not only going to pursue this legal action, but we are considering recall actions against each of the voter-installed members of the District board who never told voters about this money grab.  Between the ridiculous raise provided the CEO and now this, we think voters will revolt against the very people who empowered these abuses,” Ellsworth said.

For a copy of the lawsuit filed by Chris LaVoy of Tiffany & Bosco, please contact Michael Scerbo.

For more information or to make a contribution please go to www.azpia.org or visit them on Facebook.

Government Contract Rigged for MIHS?

CASH

Magellan Health Services filed a “formal protest and a lawsuit” against Maricopa Integrated Health Services or MIHS. Magellan had managed a contract that included serving Maricopa County’s poor since 2007. Magellan’s complaint alleges numerous irregularities:

In its protest, Magellan alleges that Mercy Maricopa has “serious conflicts of interest” because Mercy Maricopa intends to both manage the system and provide services, which is prohibited by the contract and by state law. Magellan also claims that Mercy Maricopa should have been ineligible to bid on the contract but that state procurement officials improperly amended the request for proposals “to permit the winning bidder to qualify as an eligible bidder.”

Magellan Arizona CEO Richard Clarke told The Arizona Republic that there were “serious irregularities in the bidding process,” such as the state twice amending the proposal request “at the last moment” to allow bidders to subcontract services, which benefited the Mercy Maricopa proposal.

Magellan also claims that the bids were improperly scored and that “there was an overall bias in favor of the winning bidder.”

For example, Clarke said, both organizations proposed eliminating the separate provider network for children’s treatment and using the administrative savings for direct services. Mercy Maricopa earned points for that portion of its proposal, but Magellan did not, he said. “There are a number of errors like that where it’s really clear to us that the two entities were judged very differently,” he said.

Magellan’s complaint targets not only MIHS but Betsey Bayless, MIHS’ CEO. Bayless has previously been under scrutiny for receiving a $125,000 taxpayer funded pay raise earlier this year, bringing her annual salary to $500,000 – in taxpayer money.  Bayless was viewed by many as a spoiler in the 2002 governor’s race between Matt Salmon and Governor Napolitano. Napolitano won by less than 10,000 votes and in return, Bayless was appointed as director of the Department of Administration. Bayless’ appointment would serve as a launching pad to her lucrative position at MIHS, a position which many view is beyond her qualifications.

The Arizona Republic also states an interesting fact about the state contract:

The contract, worth $2 billion to $3 billion, depending on whether the state expands Medicaid, is the states first for integrated health care, which blends physical- and mental-health treatment.

The difference between $2 billion and $3 billion is staggering. The Arizona Republic understates the amount and ignores the underlying possible nefarious motive for the changing of state law, bidding processes, and why MIHS would want the contract.  To put this into context, the difference between $2 billion and $3 billion is the difference between, say, Jerry Jones and Steven Spielberg.

Another key factor easily glossed over by the Arizona Republic is that MIHS receives nearly $60 million dollars in property taxes each year.  So, you essentially have a taxpayer-subsidized government entity bidding against private providers for the largest behavioral health contract the state has ever offered.  Does that seem fair?

The legal challenge by Magellan will hopefully shed light on the seemingly back door deal and reveal what really took place in the bidding process. When $3 billion in taxpayer dollars is at stake, the people deserve complete transparency on state contracts.