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QUITTIN’ TIME. Two prominent state officials made a run for the lobby last week, proving once again that years spent as a pubit comes time to send the kids to college. Health and Human Services Commissioner Mike McKinney, the man who was surprised to learn that a state agency can’t actually be acquired by Lockheed Martin, announced that he would be leaving his post to start up an Austin consulting firm. And Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Executive Director Dan Pearson is leaving the TNRCC to join what the Austin AmericanStatesman called a “public affairs practice,” headed by veteran Austin lobbyist Neal “Buddy” Jones. Clients of that most public of practices, according to the Statesman, include all but one of the following: Alcoa, the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, AT&T, Fort Worth’s Bass family, Continental Airlines, Intel Corp., Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the Texas Bankers Association, the Texas Health Care Association, and your cousin Harry. STAR MINUS. As part of “Star Plus,” a Houston pilot project to shift the disabled and elderly Medicaid population from feefor-service health care to managed care, 60,000 Houston-area Medicaid clients were required to choose one of three HMOs by March 15. At press time, a third of them had not yet chosen, and will therefore be defaulted into an HMO, according to Cathy Rossberg of the Health and Human Services Commission. These default assignments are not permanent, since patients dissatisfied with their HMO can switch providers every thirty days. But the changes are part of a worrisome trend: the state is asking some of its most vulnerable citizens to jump through hoops to retain benefits. Adult Supplemental Security Income recipients insured by Medicaid i.e., poor people with mental and/or physical disabilities were sent a chock-fullof-fine-print packet of brochures and charts last December, and instructed to select a managed care organization. It seems likely that the 20,000 people who did not respond to the mailing will learn what managed care means the next time they try to visit Judging by a report issued last summer by the Citizens’ Planning Advisory Committee to the Board of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, the predecessors to the Houston managed-care rollout have not been great successes so far. Medicaid managed care has already been implemented in several Texas test markets \(though the Houston Star Plus program is the lization rates have been low. According to the report, “managed care has created bureaucratic barriers, and we fear that many consumers may not be getting the services they need.” In existing sites, the committee report stated, consumers and family members have not understood how to enroll, what services were covered, or which doctors they could see. In conclusion, the committee likened the managed care rollout to “a grand experiment being undertaken in Texas. This experiment has all of the characteristics of research on human subjects which is [normally] guarded by … rules, regulations and guidelines designed to protect people from being subjects of an experiment without their prior knowledge and without information about the possible consequences for them.” BANG-UP AT THE CAPITOL. Texas’ answer to Jews for Jesus is attracting members to its Austin chapter, as Democratic officials line up to endorse George W. Bush for reelection. Following Bob Bullock’s lead, state representative Rob June11, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, jumped onto the Bushwagon. “Governor Bush has done a job that is unparalleled, in my opinion, in Texas government history,” Junell told the Austin American-Statesman. “[He] has done a bang-up good job, and I think he will do a bang-up good job the next time.” Of course many are betting on Bush to run for the bangingest office in the land, and Junell may well have endorsed him in hopes that Bush, as president, would nominate him to the federal bench. It wouldn’t be Junell’s first attempt to get himself a judgeship. In the past he’d asked Dem gubernatorial candidate Garry Mauro to use his connections with President Clinton to get him a lifetime gig on the federal bench, but that never panned out. So endorsing Bush is Junell’s logical next move. “The best reading of this is that he wants to maintain a good relationship with the Governor,” said a Democratic legislator who worked with June11 in the House. As Appropriations chair, Junell meets with the Governor and, according to the leghas to negotiate with Bush. “But what this probably means is that June11 wants to be a federal judge. It really sucks.” Junell is also the sole surviving member of the Democratic Partnership, a senior group of Democratic legislators who help set the party’s agenda and raise campaign funds \(some House races. The group was made up of Junell, Mark Stiles, of Beaumont; and Hugo Berlanga, of Corpus Christi. Stiles and Berlanga are leaving the Legislature. “We’re supposed to send Junell $2,500 [from our campaign funds],” the legislator said, “while he leads a House Democratic organization and endorses a Republican for governor.” GEORGE P. VS. BOY GEORGE. New York Governor George Pataki endorsed Texas Governor George Bush as a Republican presidential candidate. Or so he said, in a backhanded fashion, observing that Bush would be a “formidable candidate,” and in particular that “his name would be a considerable asset.” The “Daddy’s money” criticism implicit in Pataki’s “endorsement” could be explained by the fact that Pataki may himself run. And New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani might also run, although he endorsed Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo when he was defeated by Pataki. Giuliani is also mentioned as a vice-presidential candidate on the bottom half of a Bush-Giuliani ticket. UNION Labor Labor Intensive Radio Radio of the union, by the union and for the union. Hosted and produced by union members dedicated to bringing the voice of labor to the Austin airwaves. Tuesdays 6:30-7:00 p.m. KO.OP 91.7 FM P.O. Box 49340 Austin, TX 78765 MARCH 27, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17