Sunday, April 29, 2001

Innovative workers get another shot at reward

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — Three state employees who lost out on $5,000 incentive awards for helping save an estimated $158 million a year will get another chance to qualify for the prize money.

        Still, one of the three, Bill Walters, isn't confident the review will get him the incentive prize, and he won't be trying for it again.

        Mr. Walters believes his agency, the Department of Job & Family Services, discourages initiative and wastes millions on high-priced consultants.

        “I will never, ever deal with the suggestion program again,” he said.

        Judges for the state's Innovation Ohio program chose Mr. Walters, with J.D. Salvatore and Vicki Shaw, as the winners for proposing a programming change that prevents duplicate Medicaid reimbursements to nursing homes that had been sold.

        The agency's April 2000 newsletter announced that their proposal had saved the state an estimated $158 million a year and that the trio would be honored in a ceremony in the Statehouse.

        But the day before the ceremony, with the checks already cut, department managers informed the three there would be no awards.

        Even though entry rules tell workers to “look at your own job first because that is what you know best,” the managers said they considered the proposal part of “expected, ongoing duties.” Managers also thought other workers might have participated in the innovation.

        After nearly a year of appeals, acting Director Jo Ann Davidson agreed last week to review the prize decision.


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