Still Questioning the EAP Provider Switch

Council decided to turn away from a 23 year relationship with Psychological Resources and Associates (PRA), a local EAP (Employee Assistance Program) provider of short-term psychological services in favor of the national provider Cigna Behavioral Health.

As we’ve discussed previously, there were a few reasons why the staff recommended the switch. One was to reduce the number of visits from 8 per year to 6 per year on any one issue. The second was a savings of around $24,000.

However, at this meeting, the third time this item has been on the agenda and the second time the item has been heard, a new issue came up. Melissa Chaney, Human Resources Administrator for the City of Davis, cited a 1975 law, the Knox-Keene act, that requires all California EAP providers to be licensed. She claimed that PRA was not licensed. If a provider is not licensed under Knox-Keene, they cannot provide more than three counseling visits per six months, according to Chaney.

This was a 1975 law that original applied to HMOs, but began to be applied to EAPs in the late 1980s.

So the city of Davis apparently just became aware of this law.

When asked by Mayor Greenwald, Chaney said, “we didn’t realize that this provision was even in effect, that this license was mandated until we went through the RFP process.”

Greenwald continued to press, “and you didn’t discuss this with the 23 year local provider?”

Chaney responded, “No. During the RFP process we just followed the process of going through the RFP.”

Despite City Manager Bill Emlen insisting that we might need more information on the Knox-Keene act, it was clear that both Greenwald and Mayor Pro Tem Asmundson positions were swayed by this particular issue–the lack of license for PRA. Asmundson stated a preference to give the process more time given the length of the relationship and the fact that PRA was a local provider. However, the concerns about Knox-Keene licensing finally swayed her to support Cigna. Greenwald remained ambivalent about it, in the end voting for both the “take no action” substitute motion made by Councilmember Lamar Heystek (to allow for further fact finding) and then finally approving of Cigna. Heystek was the only dissenter in the end.

Councilmember Don Saylor:

“I find this highly unusual. We’ve had a reasonable process of RFP. We’ve had several providers have responded… The current provider had every opportunity to participate in the process. He wasn’t even in the top three in terms of the price and performance. We have relied on our… human resources director to provide us with a significant amount of information. And over the past month, we’ve asked them to go back and review this… I have no idea of why we are considering going back to a provider that we’ve now heard does not have the proper certification for the service…”

What I think Councilmember Saylor fails to consider is the concern over the termination of a long term relationship with a local provider and the price that was bid by Cigna as well as whether or not PRA is certified to provide this service. In the original staff report and at the prior two city council meetings in which this issue was discussed no mention was made of the certification issue. In fact it was not an issue. Regarding costs, it appears, and we did the math on Tuesday, that Cigna would lose a small amount of money in their bid if the same number of people requested the same amount of service as they did last year. That was never explained by staff or the council, how the math added up.

Furthermore, it seems rather surprising to a number of people I talked to about this subject after the meeting, that the staff never asked the local provider who the city had a 23 year relationship with about their alleged lack of certification. To this layman who is not a staff member or on council, that would seem the next obvious step. It seems that the staff was very quick to end a long time relationship over what really amounts to a small amount of savings in the scope of the city yearly budget.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Budget/Fiscal

8 comments

  1. Greenwald’s aye vote allows her to open this up for reconsideration at a later time(a la Saylor’s aye vote against the P & R consulting contract)… hoping that Asmundson,after a good night’s sleep, will think this through more clearly.
    This item should have been agendized much earlier in the evening.

  2. Greenwald’s aye vote allows her to open this up for reconsideration at a later time(a la Saylor’s aye vote against the P & R consulting contract)… hoping that Asmundson,after a good night’s sleep, will think this through more clearly.
    This item should have been agendized much earlier in the evening.

  3. Greenwald’s aye vote allows her to open this up for reconsideration at a later time(a la Saylor’s aye vote against the P & R consulting contract)… hoping that Asmundson,after a good night’s sleep, will think this through more clearly.
    This item should have been agendized much earlier in the evening.

  4. Greenwald’s aye vote allows her to open this up for reconsideration at a later time(a la Saylor’s aye vote against the P & R consulting contract)… hoping that Asmundson,after a good night’s sleep, will think this through more clearly.
    This item should have been agendized much earlier in the evening.

  5. Human Resources Administrator Melissa Chaney alleges that PRA (the 23 year provider of EAP services to the city of Davis) is not certified to provide that service, yet City Manager Bill Emlen follows up on her comments stating he is not sure that she is correct. When asked by Mayor Greenwald if staff had inquired of PRA whether they are in fact licensed to provide this service, Cheney reveals she and her staff have not done so. Dumbfounding!

    At the eleventh hour, reporting before the city council, Chaney introduces a new wrinkle into the discussion of EAP services to persuade the city council not to retain PRA, yet has not informed PRA of this concern, nor included it in her staff report of January 11, 2007.

    Melissa Chaney admits she only discovered in the last few days there was such a licensing requirement for EAP operators which she did not include in the bidding RFP (Request for Proposal) process nor did she mention it in her staff report to the city council last November 22, 2006.

    If a human resources professional, such as Chaney, did not know of the existence of this requirement (that has been on the books since 1975 & applied to EAP providers since the 1980’s) what does that say about her competency? Chaney then does not inform PRA, one of the two final competitors for the EAP contract, of her new found concern. What does that say about the fairness of the bidding process she is administering? What if she is wrong and there is in fact a legitimate answer to her concern and PRA is indeed authorized and licensed to provide EAP services? Chaney poorly served the city council and the community who rely on staff to find out these answers. It appears Chaney had no intention of wanting to find out the answer to these basic questions.

    Following up on the staff report and Chaney’s recommendation, Councilmember Saylor stated that since PRA is not certified they should not be the provider. Mayor Greenwald and Mayor Pro-tem Asmundson (both of whom had stated their preference to have local providers be favored over out of town providers and had voiced an interest in having staff continue a negotiation with PRA) are left believing they can only vote to accept Chaney’s recommendation as the local provider PRA according to Chaney is not qualified to be retained.

    This is a very troubling display of a city administrator manipulating the process to affect both a process and an outcome which is not in the city employee’s or the public’s interest.

  6. Human Resources Administrator Melissa Chaney alleges that PRA (the 23 year provider of EAP services to the city of Davis) is not certified to provide that service, yet City Manager Bill Emlen follows up on her comments stating he is not sure that she is correct. When asked by Mayor Greenwald if staff had inquired of PRA whether they are in fact licensed to provide this service, Cheney reveals she and her staff have not done so. Dumbfounding!

    At the eleventh hour, reporting before the city council, Chaney introduces a new wrinkle into the discussion of EAP services to persuade the city council not to retain PRA, yet has not informed PRA of this concern, nor included it in her staff report of January 11, 2007.

    Melissa Chaney admits she only discovered in the last few days there was such a licensing requirement for EAP operators which she did not include in the bidding RFP (Request for Proposal) process nor did she mention it in her staff report to the city council last November 22, 2006.

    If a human resources professional, such as Chaney, did not know of the existence of this requirement (that has been on the books since 1975 & applied to EAP providers since the 1980’s) what does that say about her competency? Chaney then does not inform PRA, one of the two final competitors for the EAP contract, of her new found concern. What does that say about the fairness of the bidding process she is administering? What if she is wrong and there is in fact a legitimate answer to her concern and PRA is indeed authorized and licensed to provide EAP services? Chaney poorly served the city council and the community who rely on staff to find out these answers. It appears Chaney had no intention of wanting to find out the answer to these basic questions.

    Following up on the staff report and Chaney’s recommendation, Councilmember Saylor stated that since PRA is not certified they should not be the provider. Mayor Greenwald and Mayor Pro-tem Asmundson (both of whom had stated their preference to have local providers be favored over out of town providers and had voiced an interest in having staff continue a negotiation with PRA) are left believing they can only vote to accept Chaney’s recommendation as the local provider PRA according to Chaney is not qualified to be retained.

    This is a very troubling display of a city administrator manipulating the process to affect both a process and an outcome which is not in the city employee’s or the public’s interest.

  7. Human Resources Administrator Melissa Chaney alleges that PRA (the 23 year provider of EAP services to the city of Davis) is not certified to provide that service, yet City Manager Bill Emlen follows up on her comments stating he is not sure that she is correct. When asked by Mayor Greenwald if staff had inquired of PRA whether they are in fact licensed to provide this service, Cheney reveals she and her staff have not done so. Dumbfounding!

    At the eleventh hour, reporting before the city council, Chaney introduces a new wrinkle into the discussion of EAP services to persuade the city council not to retain PRA, yet has not informed PRA of this concern, nor included it in her staff report of January 11, 2007.

    Melissa Chaney admits she only discovered in the last few days there was such a licensing requirement for EAP operators which she did not include in the bidding RFP (Request for Proposal) process nor did she mention it in her staff report to the city council last November 22, 2006.

    If a human resources professional, such as Chaney, did not know of the existence of this requirement (that has been on the books since 1975 & applied to EAP providers since the 1980’s) what does that say about her competency? Chaney then does not inform PRA, one of the two final competitors for the EAP contract, of her new found concern. What does that say about the fairness of the bidding process she is administering? What if she is wrong and there is in fact a legitimate answer to her concern and PRA is indeed authorized and licensed to provide EAP services? Chaney poorly served the city council and the community who rely on staff to find out these answers. It appears Chaney had no intention of wanting to find out the answer to these basic questions.

    Following up on the staff report and Chaney’s recommendation, Councilmember Saylor stated that since PRA is not certified they should not be the provider. Mayor Greenwald and Mayor Pro-tem Asmundson (both of whom had stated their preference to have local providers be favored over out of town providers and had voiced an interest in having staff continue a negotiation with PRA) are left believing they can only vote to accept Chaney’s recommendation as the local provider PRA according to Chaney is not qualified to be retained.

    This is a very troubling display of a city administrator manipulating the process to affect both a process and an outcome which is not in the city employee’s or the public’s interest.

  8. Human Resources Administrator Melissa Chaney alleges that PRA (the 23 year provider of EAP services to the city of Davis) is not certified to provide that service, yet City Manager Bill Emlen follows up on her comments stating he is not sure that she is correct. When asked by Mayor Greenwald if staff had inquired of PRA whether they are in fact licensed to provide this service, Cheney reveals she and her staff have not done so. Dumbfounding!

    At the eleventh hour, reporting before the city council, Chaney introduces a new wrinkle into the discussion of EAP services to persuade the city council not to retain PRA, yet has not informed PRA of this concern, nor included it in her staff report of January 11, 2007.

    Melissa Chaney admits she only discovered in the last few days there was such a licensing requirement for EAP operators which she did not include in the bidding RFP (Request for Proposal) process nor did she mention it in her staff report to the city council last November 22, 2006.

    If a human resources professional, such as Chaney, did not know of the existence of this requirement (that has been on the books since 1975 & applied to EAP providers since the 1980’s) what does that say about her competency? Chaney then does not inform PRA, one of the two final competitors for the EAP contract, of her new found concern. What does that say about the fairness of the bidding process she is administering? What if she is wrong and there is in fact a legitimate answer to her concern and PRA is indeed authorized and licensed to provide EAP services? Chaney poorly served the city council and the community who rely on staff to find out these answers. It appears Chaney had no intention of wanting to find out the answer to these basic questions.

    Following up on the staff report and Chaney’s recommendation, Councilmember Saylor stated that since PRA is not certified they should not be the provider. Mayor Greenwald and Mayor Pro-tem Asmundson (both of whom had stated their preference to have local providers be favored over out of town providers and had voiced an interest in having staff continue a negotiation with PRA) are left believing they can only vote to accept Chaney’s recommendation as the local provider PRA according to Chaney is not qualified to be retained.

    This is a very troubling display of a city administrator manipulating the process to affect both a process and an outcome which is not in the city employee’s or the public’s interest.

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