This morning the Appropriations and Health and Human Services committees met jointly for their August interim meeting.
A package of questions asked of DHHS and the provided responses may be found here: Questions and Responses
Audio from today’s meeting is available here:
From DHHS, Deputy Commissioner for Programs Ricker Hamilton, MaineCare Director Stephanie Nadeau and Riverview Superintendent Jay Harper of Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) joined the committees to provide clarification to the provided responses.
Rep. Rotundo asked the department to answer if the the department paid for the retention bonuses for CTS workers. Under questioning, Nadeau admitted that the state did pay additional funds to CTS for these payments at an expense greater than $100,000, two months pay to each retained worker.
Rep. Dorney asked that the nearly $4M of additional transportation payments since February be explained in light of the transportation contract being a capitated contract. Nadeau stated that the funds went to providers instead of CTS, the broker. Under the contract these payments to providers were the responsibility of CTS.
The August 1 transition from CTS has resulted in far fewer problems than last year’s transition.
Nursing facility issues
In response to a question from Sen. Flood, Nadeau outlined the implementation of a formal debt collection process for nursing facility cost of care payments. She was unable to answer Sen. Craven’s question about how much has been collected to date.
Riverview Psychiatric Center
Jay Harper addressed questions about the approach to meeting CMS standards for the recertification of RPC. He feels that RPC has taken steps to address the “people” aspects of the facilities shortfalls. He differentiates these from the “paperwork” shortfalls including inadequate treatment plans. Since July, Harper says, they have revamped the documentation of treatment plans. By the end of August he expects that the full training model will be in place. The Department has applied for another recertification bid.
Hamilton spoke to the Department’s decision to continue to draw down federal funds that may need to repaid. He is unable to identify a plan for that repayment.
Sen. Craven asked Harper to address a recent violent incident where a staff member was severely injured. He expects to have a report on the incident next week.
Following up on his report at the last meeting, Harper shared that 4 additional Acuity Specialists have been added since June.
Other DHHS issues
Sen. Lachowicz raised a concern that the department has begun denying coverage to women, mothers, entering substance abuse treatment on the basis that they are now non-categorical or childless adults. This would prevent them from seeking substance abuse treatment. It is important to note that no child protective action is said to have been taken. Nadeau will look for answers to this concern.
Rep. Rochelo asked why the Department has chosen to halve a contract for tobacco prevention marketing. Nadeau promised to follow up.
Issues related to DAFS
AG’s Office Raises
Sen. Hill asked the State Budget Officer, Melissa Gott, about the fact that employees of the Attorney General’s office have not received the 4% raises and 1% COLAs mandated by the state budget. The Governor has given raises to his own staff though it was only an option not a requirement like the AG’s Office raises.
Gott stated that the Governor has chosen not to sign the financial order to provide these raises. She declined to speculate as to why as did Acting Commissioner Richard Rosen. He feels that the question should be directed to the Executive directly.
Rep. Frey shared his puzzlement that this group has been singled out by the Governor.
Committee staff will expedite the request for information from the committee to the Governor regarding the intended timing of the signing of the financial order.
Deputy Commissioner Michael Allen presented information on July Revenues. July revenues are $8M over budget.
Year end balances
OFPR Director Grant Pennoyer presented to the committee regarding year-end balances.
Director Pennoyer’s materials may be found here.
The end of FY 2014 left the state with a surplus of $49.1M. After all statutory and budgetary transfers the balance of the Budget Stabilization Fund is now $68.3M
Liquor marketing RFP and other questions for the September meeting
Rep. Rotundo raised a number of questions about the recently concluded request for proposals for the marketing of spirits in Maine. Commissioner Rosen will take those questions at next month’s meeting. (You can find those questions at the end of the package of questions and answers linked above.
Sen. Flood hopes to discuss the public employees retirement system
Rep. Chase expressed her concern that perhaps those receiving indigent legal services are not contributing fully to the costs of their defense.
The committee will meet again on September 30.