Report on Education Department to go to
Federal Rule on Medicaid for Emergency Services
Auditors Urge Better
Records Review for Child Care Providers
Articles from Gongwer
News Service, January 17, 2003
For more articles visit
REPORT ON EDUCATION
DEP'T. TO GO TO GRANHOLM
A report suggesting that several functions moved out of the
Department of Education, including authority over the Michigan
Educational Assessment Program test, be returned to that
department will be forwarded to Governor Jennifer Granholm for
her consideration, a department spokesperson said Friday.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins thought
many of the recommendations made in the report were good, said
T. J. Bucholz, but that any decisions to move functions
between the departments of Treasury and Career Development
back to Education lie with the governor.
The report, issued by the Citizens Research Council (and
available at their web-site, crcmich.org) with funding
assistance by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, was
requested by Mr. Watkins and looked at how Michigan's
education department was restructured by former Governor John
Engler and how the state's department compared with other
education departments across the nation.
Mr. Engler made the most sweeping changes to the department's
organization since the 1963 constitution, putting dozens of
functions under the authority of the superintendent and then
moving some functions, like administration of the MEAP program
to Treasury and adult education to Career Development, to
Mr. Engler made no secret of his disdain of the State Board of
Education and said as he left office that it should be an
appointive rather than elected board.
In most states, the board of education is an appointed board,
according to the report.
The report also said that in most states education achievement
testing, such as the MEAP, is in the education department.
Most states also have their data reporting in the education
department, in Michigan it is in the Center for Education
Performance and Information, and workforce development, in
Michigan it is in the Department of Career Development.
The report said there are legitimate functions for the
Department of Career Development and for Treasury to have an
involvement in education.
However, to promote overall efficiency by "minimal overlap and
duplication" through "grouping together programs and
activities with the same goals and objectives."
The report recommended that MEAP, the Center for Education
Performance and Information, oversight for the Virtual High
School, and adult education be transferred back into the
Department of Education.
Treasury would still have oversight for student financial
assistance under the reorganization, the report said, and
Career Development would continue to oversee functions such as
workforce development, postsecondary education services and
the Employment Services Agency among others.
Career Development is expected to be combined into a new
department with Consumer and Industry Services called Labor,
Economic Growth and Urban Development.
Mr. Bucholz said the department is not interested in "how many
pieces of education policy are under the departmental
umbrella. What most concerns (Mr. Watkins) is that the policy
is coherent. We're not completely sure that's happening now."
FEDERAL RULE ON MEDICAID FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES
Some states' officials say they will use a new federal
directive they interpret as allowing them to limit the number
of emergency room trips covered by Medicaid, but a
spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Community Health
said Friday that at this point no changes are planned here.
Under previous policy, states had to cover Medicaid-eligible
patients' visits to the emergency room as long as it met the
standard that a "prudent layperson" would consider the
situation an emergency. The directive would give states more
freedom to curb Medicaid coverage.
Patients would not be denied care. Federal law requires
hospitals to treat patients who arrive with an emergency. The
issue is over who would pay for that care.
The decision comes as growing Medicaid costs loom over most
states' budgets, including Michigan. Before leaving office,
former Governor John Engler called its spiraling costs the
biggest threat to the state's fiscal security.
But at this stage, the Department of Community Health would
have to study whether there are large numbers of repeat
Medicaid-eligible visitors to emergency rooms before deciding
whether to adopt any changes, spokesperson Geralyn Lasher
said. Ms. Lasher said that no option can be ruled out when it
comes to examining issues with Medicaid.
"Do we want people seeking non-emergency care in an emergency
room? Of course not," she said. "When you look at the current
Medicaid situation, you have to look at everything."
Patients rights groups and some in Congress are criticizing
the administration's ruling, saying federal statute requiring
the "prudent layperson" standard still trumps an
"administrative rule." They also say the rule change could
harm the poor's access to health care.
AUDITORS URGE BETTER
RECORDS REVIEW FOR CHILD CARE PROVIDERS
The Department of Human Services has improved its procedures to
check criminal background records of child care aides and
relative child care providers, auditors said in a report
released Friday, but urged the department to expand its review
to include other household members.
The recommendation by Auditor General Thomas McTavish is
contained in a follow-up review of its audit in 2000 of the
Child Development and Care Program.
A revised eligibility manual by FIA following the last audit
requires aide and provider applicants to be checked against
the Central Registry to determine if they are perpetrators or
have been convicted of some types of other felonies, and
continuing checks are made against the Central Registry.
The auditors commended FIA for implementing similar checks on
other household members, but noted it occurs only if FIA
learns that a household member may be on the registry, and
does not do continuing checks to see if members show up later
on the registry. Auditors said another weakness is that
household members younger than 19 are not covered by the FIA
The auditors also found FIA had not fully complied with a
recommendation to better identify crimes against a child and
other crimes that could be considered sufficient reason for
rejecting an aide or relative care provider application and to
obtain authority to perform history checks on all applicants.
The FIA, while agreeing to implement the recommendations, had
disputed that other states have policies and procedures on
criminal checks that are absent in Michigan. It noted a
national study did not cover day care centers, childcare aides
or relative care providers.
The follow up by the auditors found that the FIA did not
properly match names between various data files and the
state's criminal history files, leading to several persons who
should have been ineligible to serve as aides or providers
remaining on the eligible list. The auditors also said the FIA
failed to include other felonies and some misdemeanors related
to crimes against a child.
The auditors also said the FIA, which researched its options
following the earlier audit, had not complied with a
recommendation to determine whether aide and relative care
provider applicants have had day care licenses or
registrations revoked. They said the department conducted a
one-time data file match in 2000 in order to disenroll
providers who matched the revocation list, but said a request
by staff for periodic data file matches was not initiated.
On another issue of conducting periodic checks on the status
of aides or providers to determine if they had been added to
criminal history files, the FIA said it did not have legal
authority to do so.