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Saturday, March 03, 2007

County Expands EAP through Psychological Resource Associates

In striking contrast to the claims made by staff at the city of Davis back in January, Yolo County continues to receive its Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Psychological Resource Associates (PRA).

If you recall, city staffer Melissa Chaney made the claim that PRA was not Knox-Keane certified and that this lack of certification meant they could only offer limited services (also see). We later discovered that in fact that was not true and that PRA was exempt from the certification standards since they were a pay-per-service operation.

This week, the County Human Resources department announced additional benefits available to employees through the EAP provided through Psychological Resource Associates.

Some of these programs include: Financial Counseling including credit counseling, first-time homebuyer Workshops, identity theft counseling, default and foreclosure counseling.

They also provide legal information and services through Legal Match, which is a national company that provides their clients with an extensive law library written for the consumer of legal services with over 220 legal topics. These topics include general information in layman's terms to better help the employee understand the law. Legal Match also provides a referral services to refer employees to lawyers in the area.

The claim that the city of Davis was making in terms of PRA's lack of certification was an odd one to begin with given the number of local governance bodies served by PRA and the fact that Dr. Dean Dickerson and his colleagues at PRA are individually licensed by the State of Californian to provide EAP services. Yolo County continues to receive their Employee Assistance Program through PRA and it is clear that PRA offers a wide variety of services in addition to just short-term psychological care. Several other local governing bodies also receive their EAP services through PRA.

The City of Davis claimed that they wanted a more versatile program for their EAP, however it is clear to many that an HMO or national insurance corporation such as Cigna is more likely to lead to a cutback in overall services than it is to expand them. It is unfortunate that the city would opt to switch their provider from a local provider to a national provider. One of the stated goals of any city should be to keep as much business as possible within the hands of local business. Not only does that encourage local business and improve the local economy, but often local businesses do a better job even if they may not have the economies of scale to things cheaper. As our numbers indicate, it appears Cigna would at the very least lose some money in the contract that they signed with the city. That should have been viewed with much more suspicion by the Davis City Council and city staff than it was.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting