Pennsylvania House Democratic Whip Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven, has asked new state Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to investigate the delay in payroll payments to personal care attendants for some 22,000 consumers across the state.
In December, the state Department of Public Welfare consolidated the financial management service responsibilities of 37 Pennsylvania-based companies involved with the Personal Care Attendant Program to PCG Public Partnerships LLC (PPL) of Boston.
"According to DPW and the Office of Long-Term Living, this consolidation would save money and improve efficiency within the program. Despite questions from House members and stakeholders, both DPW and PPL assured the public that the transfer could be completed in less than a month with minimal problems. Now, as we near the end of January, legislative offices are being inundated with calls from attendants who have not received paychecks and consumers who fear they will lose care due to attendant non-payment," Hanna wrote to Kane and DePasquale.
"Individual customer service inquiries are not being answered and no party has specified what actions are being taken to fix these payroll problems. With all of this in mind, I feel an investigation is needed to fully comprehend the negative impact of this payroll delay and ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being misspent," he continued.
Hanna also is repeating an earlier request to House Human Services Committee Chairman Gene DiGirolamo for the committee to hold a public hearing on the payroll delay issue.
"From what I have heard from constituents and stakeholders, this transfer is being poorly handled by all parties involved, including the Pennsylvania Office of Long-Term Living; the Department of Public Welfare and PPL. What is even more frustrating has been the lack of communication DPW, OLTL and PPL have been sharing with the public regarding the specific actions taken to fix these problems," Hanna wrote.
Hanna said he wants answers to the following questions:
r How many attendants did not receive checks on time?
r How many attendants are still without pay; what is the timeline for resolving payroll problems?
r Who will hold PPL responsible for their failure to adequately address customer service issues and its ineffective (877) phone system?
r What, if any, compensation will be available to attendants who suffered financially from this payroll delay; who is liable for these damages?
r Who in DPW and OLTL are responsible for approving this transition in such a short timeframe; will they be held accountable for their incompetence?
r Does Secretary Alexander, with his reported residence and personal business in Rhode Island, have the ability to competently run DPW; will he be held accountable?
"As I have stated in previous correspondence, this is a health care issue along with a payroll issue," Hanna wrote.
"I have heard reports of consumers losing attendants because of non-payment and not receiving proper personal care. I have also heard of attendants suffering financially and experiencing eviction notices, utility shut-offs and other penalties because they did not receive the paychecks they deserve. In my opinion, the actions of DPW, OLTL and PPL are criminally negligent. A public hearing is needed for the House Human Services Committee to fully comprehend the negative impact of this payroll delay."