July 16, 2004
Strayhorn wants CHIP audit

Meant to post this earlier - Comptroller Strayhorn is calling for an audit of the state's Child Health Insurance Program.

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn called Monday for a federal investigation into overpayments to a Children's Health Insurance Program contractor that she said had ties to the governor's chief of staff.

"We need an independent investigation to see if there's any fraudulent or illegal activity here," she said.

Strayhorn complained that $20 million in overpayments found by a state audit last week could have prevented 17,000 children from being cut from the Children's Health Insurance Program because of budget shortfalls. Since September, 149,000 children have lost their benefits due to changes in eligibility.

Strayhorn complained of possible criminal violations in letters to the U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in San Antonio and the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington.

It was not immediately apparent whether either will act on her request.

Strayhorn is questioning separately what she called an "incestuous" relationship between Gov. Rick Perry's Chief of Staff Mike Toomey and a Clarendon National Health Insurance Co. subcontractor Toomey lobbied for.

"I am shocked and appalled by the recent finding of the Texas state auditor of abuses involving state and federal funds in managing the Children's Health Insurance Program," Strayhorn wrote, decrying the overpayments to CHIP contractor Clarendon, which served rural counties.


Strayhorn also complained that Perry's former chief of staff Mike McKinney once acted as the president of a company expected to take over the contract in September.

"I'm disturbed by with what appears to be a very incestuous relationship between Governor Perry's top men and the companies supposed to be taking care of our children," she said.

Toomey formerly worked as a lobbyist for Clarendon subcontractor USA-MCO. McKinney was the former president of the incoming contractor, Superior Health Plan.

The governor's office, however, noted Clarendon signed the contract in May 2000, before Perry was governor.

And I'm sure that in May of 2000, Rick Perry had no idea whatsoever what possibilities his future might hold. How lucky for him and his friends that things turned out so serendipitously.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 16, 2004 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack