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 Articles of Interest

starMI Report on Education Department to go to Granholmstar

starMI State Assesses Federal Rule on Medicaid for Emergency Servicesstar

starMI Auditors Urge Better Records Review for Child Care Providersstar


Articles from Gongwer News Service, January 17, 2003
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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, 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 other departments.

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."


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.


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 forms.

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.

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