Group that Monitors Medicaid, Medicare Pledges Changes

AUGUST 21, 2006 - Posted at 10:22 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - No more retreats at California or Nevada resorts and no more leases of cars and apartments for board members.  Those are among the pledges made by the new head of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care as he takes over a group under scrutiny by both state and federal lawmakers.

Foundation chief executive Nick Paslidis said recently that his goal is to turn the page and move forward and focus on the foundation's mission.   The taxpayer-funded foundation, with a budget of about $18 million, contracts with Medicare and Medicaid to examine the state's health-care services and make improvements.

In June, the state Legislative Council's Review Committee requested an audit of the foundation after hearing details of questions the U.S. Senate Finance Committee had raised about its operations.

Among the spending items being scrutinized are retreats paid for by the nonprofit organization at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Half Moon Bay, California.  The agency also contracted to pay $16,500 a month to a marketing business, whose owners and only employees are the wife and daughter of an officer of the agency.  The foundation also paid for cars for two board members and for apartments in Little Rock for three board members.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)