Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ill Will In DC

The DC Council has aimed its sights at providers of care and housing for the developmentally disabled in our nation's capitol. It would seem that continuing reports of substandard care, coupled with research into the salaries of the providers' top executives have reached the confrontational level.

Daniel De Luc at The Washington Post reports:

During a hearing, council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and David A. Catania (I-At Large) said they were tired of hearing rounds of excuses from the providers of group housing for the approximately 1,200 mentally disabled persons in the District's care. It was the first major council hearing on the developmentally disabled since Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) took office last year and marked a new, intensive scrutiny from the council.

"You either have to come up with a strategy to [improve] or get out of business, because you cannot provide substandard care," Wells told several of the providers who appeared at the hearing.

The District has an embattled history when it comes to this particular topic. Three decades ago the District was sued over the poor quality of care offered. Last year a federal judge found that the city officials had failed the disabled residents in question. Then this last May, a court monitor reported that these residents "remain at very serious risk." This history provides the foundation of the Council's dissatisfaction with private and non profit providers, but what really seems to have touched off the powder keg is the revelation of key executive salaries in the companies involved.

Wells and Catania, whose staffs researched tax records, noted that top executives at some providers earn more than $200,000 a year and singled out David Wilmot, president of Individual Development, which operates 11 group homes in wards 7 and 8.

Wilmot, a well-known D.C. lawyer who has been active in politics, is paid $300,000 annually, the council members said. And they noted that Wilmot and another board member had received loans from the company.

"I think that's hard to justify, considering where we're at," Wells said, calling it "extraordinary compensation."

The Post article provides some solid background as well as details of the arguments used by Wilmot and others to justify their salaries in light of the situation. The fur will be flying, I predict, between the providers' justifiable arguments of unqualified workforce and low reimbursement rates to the recent relocation of over 160 patients when their providers moved out of the "low reimbursement zone."

This is guaranteed to be a hot topic as it develops. Valid and worrisome issues that directly effect both patients and providers will be the centerpiece as the drama unfolds.

SOURCE: "City Council Members Criticize Providers" 07/08/08
photo courtesy of eschipul, used under its Creative Commons license

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