Letter: DHHS chief Mayhew responds to Beem column

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Edgar Allen Beem argues in his recent column (“The Universal Notebook: The Pope, the GOP, and the poor”) that the Department of Health and Human Services shouldn’t confront welfare fraud because there isn’t enough fraud and abuse to make it worthwhile.

Maine DHHS’s anti-fraud efforts identify millions in recoupments annually, and even if these efforts did not pay for themselves, you cannot put a price on deterrence, nor can you put a price on standing up on principle.

Additionally, Beem got his facts wrong. He complains that DHHS “only referred 16 cases for prosecution over the past three years.” He is actually referring to just one very specific type of fraud – criminal Medicaid provider fraud – and one unit within DHHS. That number fails to include the 3,193 Medicaid provider fraud referrals made by our licensing division.

The Medicaid unit Beem references also finalized 263 civil cases worth $10 million in recoupments last year. DHHS investigators have prepared and referred 83 cases of consumer criminal welfare fraud to the attorney general for prosecution so far this year alone, representing nearly $933,000 in benefits theft.

Under Gov. LePage, these prosecution referrals are up tenfold since the previous administration. And that doesn’t even include the 409 non-criminal program violations we have uncovered so far this year, worth more than $1.36 million.

The welfare programs this department manages are critical safety net programs for the people of Maine. Guarding against fraud and abuse is essential for effective stewardship of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually to the benefit both of those in need and the taxpayer.

Mary C. Mayhew, commissioner
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Augusta 

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  • Heather Sirocki

    Thank you to Commissioner Mayhew for providing this information.

    • Queenie42

      Yes, but can she prove it? Like her boss, Mayhem has yet to explain a lot of things. And like her boss, she feels like she doesn’t have to. She AND her boss have wasted more taxpayer dollars than they ever will recoup.

      • Pinetree North

        Prove it, Queenie. All of it.

      • Heather Sirocki

        Of course she can prove it.

  • Pinetree North

    Thanks to Mary Mayhew, for setting Mr. Moonbeem straight. Will he respond, or just sulk at being proven wrong?

    • Pinetree North

      Where OH Where is Mr. Moonbeem?

      • EABeem

        Away in Canada.

        • Pinetree North

          Seems you haven’t lost internet access. Why no rebuttal to Mayhew proving you wrong? Sulking?

          • EABeem

            Hard to use laptops in hotel. Mayhew proved nothing. 1) Truther cites the same report I read and that Mayhew did not dispute. Let her tell MPBN her sob story. 2) I do not believe a single thing Mayhew says. She is a flunky for the worst and most venal governor Maine has ever had.

          • Pinetree North

            In other words you can’t refute her arguments. Don’t forget to put your fingers in your ears while you’re chanting.

  • truther

    Beem can speak for himself, but since the discrepancy between the two sides is so incredibly huge I did a quick google search or two.

    This is from a recent report:

    “The office’s review found that out of 3,600 cases referred to the
    attorney general’s office over the past three years, only 16 were
    referred from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’
    Medicaid Program Integrity Unit. This is a special unit created to root
    out cases of welfare fraud.”

    news.mpbn.net/post/review-medicaid-fraud-unit-referred-just-16-cases-attorney-general-3-years

    You’ll notice that Mayhew, in her letter, says that we also need to include the other referrals from “our licensing division,” but by definition that’s not welfare fraud by recipients. So it would seem that she’s responding to Beem’s assertion about attempts to go after welfare recipient cheats, by adding in the efforts to go after other types of fraud as well.

    • Pinetree North

      The state has also submitted eight times the amount of resident welfare fraud cases to the Attorney General’s office, and to the criminal authorities. Baldacci just didn’t care about getting the fraudsters off the public dole.

      • truther

        I don’t see anything in Mayhew’s letter about referring 8 times as many resident welfare fraud cases, so you’ll have to tell me where you’re getting that. I’m also skeptical that there are other consumer welfare fraud cases out there beyond the 16 since Mayhew’s burying these other numbers in her letter and mixing her categories together.

        • Pinetree North

          I will try this once, and wait for the inevitable protests and claims from you that it “can’t be true.”

          Welfare Fraud Investigations, Prosecutions Increase Exponentially.
          LePage DHHS aggressively pursuing welfare fraud; referrals to AG up eightfold

          http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/archivednews_autosearch.shtml?id=642038

          • truther

            Why do you cop an attitude with me when I ask you where you’re getting your outside data from? If you were confident in your assertions I’d expect you to volunteer that information freely instead of acting like you’re doing me a special favor.

          • Pinetree North

            Your attempt at deflection is noted. And disregarded.

            DHHS, under LePage, has been far more diligent about trying to get rid of the fraud in the state’s welfare system, from top to bottom.

          • truther

            How many cases did the DHHS Medicaid Program Integrity Unit refer to the AG’s office in its first three years?

          • Pinetree North

            How many cases has the AG left sitting on her desk, for months at a time? That’s the real question, if any reporters wanted to explore the real story.

          • truther

            Is this where I mock you for your attempt at deflection?

            How many cases did the DHHS Medicaid Program Integrity Unit refer to the AG’s office in its first three years?