Morning Read: Clinton County privatizes home health care

We’ve been reporting for the last couple of years on the scramble by county governments to continue paying for social services, especially those that benefit the elderly, even as costs continue to rise.

The Plattsburgh Press Republican is reporting that Clinton County officials have decided that paying for home health care is just too much.  By privatizing the program, they hope to save taxpayers $2 million a year.

“There are 80,000 people who live in this county and they are the silent majority,” Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac) said.

“Those 80,000 people have to have a spokesman, too. We have a responsibility to everyone and we can’t look the other way for the people who are not here.”

The county has provided this service for forty-five years.  It may take as long as a year for the license to be sold and transferred to a private company, expected to be a firm called Home Healthcare of Rochester.

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10 Comments on “Morning Read: Clinton County privatizes home health care”

  1. JDM says:

    By privatizing the program, they hope to save taxpayers $2 million a year.

    Sounds like Bill Owens got on the Obamacare bandwagon heading in the wrong direction!

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  2. myown says:

    Good luck on saving the taxpayers $2 million a year by privatizing. Here’s info on a recent study that shows privatizing at the Federal level costs the government more for 33 of 35 occupations, about twice as much more.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/us/13contractor.html?_r=2

    And with all the talk from Tea Party types, conservative Republicans (guess that’s really redundant) about government inefficiencies and calls for reducing government why is it that when they get in power they don’t actually eliminate much. Instead they hire private companies to do what their own government workers did cheaper.
    A) If a government function is not necessary, eliminate it.
    B) If a government function is necessary but not performing well, you as Governor/Municipal CEO have the ability to improve it since you presumably should have the necessary administrative skills to do so.
    C) Many government functions should never be privatized, especially those involving social institutions like K-12 education, prisons, mental health, etc. There are important outcomes that both society and participants expect from these organizations that may not happen if the profit motive takes over.

    Privatizing prisons is all the rage with the governors of Texas and Florida jumping on the bandwagon. Of course, large donations to the governors’ election campaigns had nothing to do with who gets the lucrative contracts. And then these same prison corporations lobby the legislature to pass bills that will generate more prisoners (and profits). The US already has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Reform of government spending has to focus on prison costs which outstrip education and healthcare costs.

    http://www.onlineeducation.net/incarceration_usa

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  3. Mervel says:

    The corruption issue is a good one particularly in those cases where a lot of money is involved and people don’t really care about the outcome of the service, like prisons.

    However I think in this case the bigger issue is if a private company can actually provide the service needed for the price. I don’t know if they can?

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  4. myown says:

    Well I hope someone holds the politicians accountable and verifies that the $2 million was saved. Gee maybe something a news organization could do.

    As the Federal study showed privatizing costs more yet the private worker gets paid less than the equivalent government worker. So in this example of privatizing healthcare services, even if the total cost to the county remained the same it is likely the private employees will be paid less. That means the now private local workers’ standard of living will go down and their ability to contribute to the local economy is reduced. Meanwhile the savings from lower employee costs are used for administrative overhead (including oversized CEO pay) and profits to the corporation’s shareholders who almost always live elsewhere. It’s a lose – lose formula the community.

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  5. oa says:

    Exactly, Mervel. What’s interesting in all these conversations about cost/benefits of public/private entities, nobody asks if the customers, in this case the people in need of this specialized care, will be better or worse off.
    We’re becoming a sick society that way.

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  6. Mervel says:

    Yeah oa I agree. The point of a profit driven private company is to maximize profits and give the owners a return. So how does that work if you are running a prison? The incentive is to reduce costs and increase revenues, okay feed them less, hire less qualified people, pay everyone less taking care of the prisoners and so forth.

    Now this has been going on in NYS for a long time. There has been tons of outsourcing by NYS government to private not for profits for the sole reason that the the government cannot afford to provide the service if they pay government wages, so they subcontract the effort out to not for profits who all pay much less.

    I have personal experience in this area and it bothers me. I have taken both state and county contracts to do work that the county cannot afford to do unless I do it with my much lower paid staff. Right there you get the resentment, I have staff working alongside county employees making literally around 1/2 of what the county employee makes doing the same work.

    Privatizing can work in limited cases, but often I think it leads to less service, exploitation of not for profit employees, and corruption of the government leaders.

    I mean on a big level look at Perry and Obama, both of these guys are paying their buddies with government dollars either in solar or the oil business.

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  7. JDM says:

    I mean on a big level look at Perry and Obama, both of these guys are paying their buddies with government dollars either in solar or the oil business.

    Hehe.

    I thought Obama was supposed to be on our side when it came to those BIG, EVIL CORPORATIONS.

    Hehe.

    We had better wake up to the fact that they are all scoundrels. The only way to stop government from doing stupid things with our money is to KEEP OUR MONEY AWAY FROM THEM.

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  8. Mervel says:

    But then who would want to run for office? Politics is a business. Look at the North Country all of these guys who lost got relatively high paying state government jobs.

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  9. JDM says:

    But then who would want to run for office?

    Maybe if we starved government for money, only those people who really care about changing things would run for office, and not those who want to make a career out of living off other people’s money.

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  10. scratchy says:

    Sometimes privitization is and sometimes it is bad. The bottom line is that the high cost public employees, as documented by mervel, is forcing many counties to pursue privatization. Unless public employee pension and retiree health care benefits are brought to a level taxpayers can afford to fund, you’re going to so more and more privitization.

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