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Council cited in Globe editorial on Governor-Elect Baker

Providers' Council President and CEO Michael Weekes was quoted in a Boston Globe editorial on Monday, November 17 about Governor-Elect Charlie Baker and the early test his administration will have with the human services sector. The editorial begins:

GOVERNOR-ELECT Charlie Baker knows from experience that the state’s human services system — child protection, mental illness, welfare, and juvenile justice — will pose the stiffest challenge for his new administration at the highest stakes. Baker served as secretary of health and human services from 1992 to 1994, a time when scores of people died under the care or control of state human service agencies — 42 suicides in the state mental health system in 1994 alone, according to a Globe article from that period. Human services advocates pointed — as they often do — to insufficient budgets. State officials pointed — as they often do— to better record-keeping that accounted for more suicides.

Later on in the piece, the editorial discusses a recent lawsuit filed by The Collaborative, and asks Council President & CEO Michael Weekes his thoughts.

In the early 1990s, former Governor William Weld charged Baker with the task of removing human services from the list of “budget busters” blamed for pushing the state to the fiscal brink. He accomplished that by placing more patients in Medicaid-eligible facilities and expanding a system of nonprofit, community-based group homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled to replace the larger and more expensive state hospitals. But chronically low salaries make it difficult for these groups to attract and retain a qualified, privatized workforce. And despite the passage of rate-setting legislation in 2008, annual salary increases rarely keep up with inflation.

Baker will inherit a lawsuit from the Providers’ Council — composed of 270 private, community-based providers — aimed at the state’s failure to fund the salary increases. He promised during the campaign to make good on the raises, which is only right given his role in the creation of this system. But Baker also needs to rid the human services network of “redundant, preposterous regulations,” according to Providers’ Council president Michael Weekes. Ensuring that providers document their services and justify their costs is imperative, said Weekes. But providers are drowning in financial reports, audits, personnel minutiae, and endless documentation that goes well beyond the requirements of accountability.

To read the entire editorial, you can visit The Boston Globe's website or the In The News page on the Providers' Council's website. Please contact Bill Yelenak with questions.