Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

Political Vine: The Insider's Source on Georgia Politics

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Special Report: Refugee Resettlement in Georgia

by Bill Simon

[Note: The following is a reprint from an emailed newsletter I sent back on February 20, 2014, but that article never got republished to the Political Vine website.]

“Follow the money.” — attributed to “Deep Throat,” the inside source in the Watergate scandal.

“No matter what they say it’s about, it’s always about money.” — Bill O’Neil, American Businessman

Introduction

Ever heard of “refugee resettlement?” Few people have outside of a smattering of government and political entities…and even within those categories, even fewer have ever heard of the term or understands what it means…and most importantly, what it costs. What it costs the U.S., and, what it costs the local and state (“Georgia”) taxpayer.

There will be lots of people in the legislature, along with lobbyists of the NGOs that receive beaucoup money from the government(s), and representatives of NGOs who claim that the money to resettle/relocate refugees to Georgia “…comes from the Feds and is therefore free money we don’t have to come-up with.”

There is an initial chunk of money that comes from the Feds…that lasts about 90 days….AND then, where do the refugees go for financial help? Your local pocketbook, of course.

There was a very good article about refugee resettlement in Georgia published in the Marietta Daily Journal a few days ago. It was written by Joe Newton, Chairman of Citizens for Refugee Resettlement Relief in Georgia. The whole piece is good, but I found the following the most significant as it directly relates to the burden on the local and state jurisdictions:

“In 2010 the welfare cost to Georgians was $17 million, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Counties chipped in $4 million of your money — most of which came from your property taxes. The federal government pays most of the cost for 90 days, and then Georgians absorb the welfare cost in perpetuity. Estimates show that the Georgia welfare cost is now approaching $40 million annually and rising exponentially.”

And, it’s not just hard dollars that it is costing Georgians. When “refugees” are depicted in movies and documentaries, they seem to always paint the scene as though these are people seeking a new and better life and will love their new country and their “rescuers.”

But, in fact, there is likely to be a higher percentage of them who may not be the type of person you think they are…and what ends-up happening is that they add to the law enforcement and public safety resource burden as well.

There was an article published on February 5, 2014 in the The Washington Times that discusses a federal audit of the “asylum” process and the audit discovered that 70% of the applications for asylum contained fraudulent claims about the person seeking asylum.

Yes, I understand, “asylum” is not the same program as “refugee resettlement.” BUT…we’re talking about a federal government program. A program run under the Obama Administration. An administration that very likely is comprised of many people who have been required to memorize the Cloward–Piven theory of overloading local, state, and the federal government resources to “crash” the system (no, sorry, this is not a conspiracy theory, but their theory in practice. One need only to look back at what ACORN was all about to understand the purpose of all these programs).

Anyone who thinks that there isn’t FUBAR-corruption across the whole gamut of “federal programs” is likely smoking crack.

OR…they, themselves, are “on the take.” Meaning, they are making tons of money through the chaos of burdening other people with demands on the public welfare system.

The fact is that there are plenty of other states that can take the refugees. Georgia is already taking in far more than their “fair share.”

The actual purpose of this Special Report is to focus on a couple of issues of significance about the RR program in Georgia, not go thru the whole discussion on refugee resettlement. If you want to become better informed about the subjects of both refugee asylum and refugee resettlement, I highly recommend two sites which are well-written and have bountiful info on them:

Refugee Resettlement Watch (“RRW”)

Maggie’s Notebook

Georgia Welfare Programs for Refugee Resettlement

According to Fact #16 from the aforementioned RRW site, refugees and asylum-seekers are eligible for all state, local, and federal programs after 30 days…essentially becoming instant U.S. Citizens.

There are thousands of Americans who have served in the military, and they have to wait on the VA for years to get their benefits, and the RR program allows someone to get access to government benefits without ever demonstrating they care one whit about the country they’ve moved to. (How-so-very-clever of Congress to create that dichotomy of benefits.)

In no way do I profess to know all of the programs in place in Georgia that are available to, and used by, the refugees, but I can name at least three: Peachcare for Kids, Georgia Families, and Planning for Healthy Babies.

All three of these are financed by Medicaid, both federal and state-based Medicaid.

All three of these programs are administered by one vendor: Amerigroup (see this website: https://www.myamerigroup.com/english/medicaid/ga/pages/ga-2012.aspx or this PDF if someone takes down the Amerigroup website after this Vine hits some in-boxes).

There is a Georgia State Senator who is chairman of a sub-committee responsible for “helping” to decide the budget amount that is allowed for refugee resettlement in Georgia That senator’s name is Renee Unterman (R-Buford).

Just by mere (cough!) coincidence (I’m totally sure!), State Senator Renee Unterman happens to work for Amerigroup as an “insurance executive.” (Page 4 of this PDF Financial Disclosure).

So, let me put this in perspective: We have a state senator who chairs a committee responsible for deciding how many refugees Georgia should allow to resettle here “because it’s all federal dollars and it won’t cost us a thing” (Unterman’s words to people in the past), who is, herself, employed by a company that makes its money by providing Medicaid insurance to a whole slew of eligible participants, not the least of which includes refugees and asylum seekers (and their generations of offspring) coming to America that Unterman guides by pushing a state budget higher over the years to get “free federal funds” to pay for those refugees to get resettled here.

Nothing wrong here, right? Just move along, Folks, as this is the S.O.P. for “ethics in government” in this state, right?

Something else rather curious did crop-up in my research. Amerigroup is an entity that provides managed-care services to the State of Georgia. So, in order to do that, they have to have a contractual relationship, and be deriving some dollars from the state budget.

So, why is the name “Amerigroup” not showing-up as any kind of vendor or recipient of state tax dollars on the Open.GA.Gov website?

Well, if you read the online letter from State Auditor Greg Griffin, one discovers that the “Georgia Department of Audits & Accounts” really doesn’t appear to act as an “auditor” acts in the “real world.”

They, actually, don’t appear to “audit” a damn thing. The last paragraph of that online letter from Griffin states this: “All of this information is the representation of the management of the entities providing us this data. We are only accumulating and reporting this information as required by the aforementioned code sections and, accordingly, do not express an opinion or any other form of assurance on it.”

So, essentially, this state relies on departments to be submitting the financial data, and submitting accurate, all-accounted-for-data, to the DAA and the DAA has no true “auditing” oversight?

Apparently, the Open.GA.Gov site simply displays data that has been submitted to the Audit Department from the state agencies and departments. They do nothing but aggregate financial reports. (Wow. Thanks, Democrats, for all these departments like DAA you folks set-up that don’t…actually do anything to assure our tax money is being properly spent; except, of course, to spend more tax dollars.)

So, how much money is Amerigroup receiving from the State of Georgia from their sweetheart Medicaid deal that Senator Renee Unterman keeps in place (and is likely receiving bonuses from) due to her state senate committee position?

I’m guessing that will just be one of the “unsolved mysteries” of life in Georgia government. Maybe Leonard Nimoy is available for a special edition of “In Search Of…“?

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Today's Deep Thought

I think there is more wisdom in a single drop of rain than there is in all the books in all the libraries of the world. Wait, not rain. Super-concentrated brain juice.



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