Members of the legislative Behavioral Health Subcommittee last week pried open the circumstances leading the state Human Services Department to accuse 15 of the largest nonprofit providers of fraud and cut off funding.
Information surfacing in chunks like wreckage at sea supports both HSD and the displaced providers.
During the day-long hearing, the big moment belonged to Thomas Aldridge, of the Boston-based Public Consulting Group, whose audit incriminated the nonprofits. Aldridge admitted matter-of-factly that he had accompanied the governor and HSD officials to Arizona, on the taxpayers’ dime, to meet with Arizona service providers before the audit began.
HSD Deputy Secretary Brent Earnest, standing in for Secretary Sidonie Squier, did a far better job at explaining things than his boss, who was last seen by legislators storming out of a committee meeting. Earnest, who is a grownup, said HSD first received whistleblower complaints about a variety of fraudulent activities.
In November, HSD got a warning from Optum Health, which oversees behavioral health services for the state, related to irregularities in provider billings. And here, the story takes a couple of peculiar turns.