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Providence, RI - House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan introduced a resolution yesterday requesting an independent investigation of the issues related to the recent revelations involving the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The resolution quickly garnered a broad range of bipartisan support. Members of the legislature who signed on are seeking answers to the persistent, costly issues at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).
An EOHHS staff lawyer failed to file an appeal in a Superior Court case that awarded nursing homes at least $24 million in improperly withheld payments. Representative Morgan commented on the situation, stating: “That large award will have a massive impact on our state budget. The fact that the lawyer, his supervisors, and senior administrators appear to have overlooked this serious case elicits misgivings about the administration’s management of this crucial department.”
“The series of events are alarming, especially when judged against the backdrop of the premature launch of UHIP, the failure of the ‘Reinvention of Medicaid’ initiative, and revelations about suspended licenses of legal staff. EOHHS is responsible for administering our social welfare programs with yearly spending of nearly $2.5 billion. It impacts the lives of a third of all Rhode Islanders directly through its programs, as well as the agencies that provide services and their vendors. If the administration fails to properly perform its duties, it causes harm to a large part of our population. It is of critical importance that EOHHS provides competent and effective oversight,” she continued.
“If adopted by the General Assembly, my resolution would empower an independent investigation of the issues surrounding the botched appeal of this sizable award in the nursing home suit and the lawyer’s lack of a valid license. It would explore any conflicts of interest or political influences that may have impacted the lawyer’s inaction. Additionally, it would seek to understand the lack of oversight and supervision by senior management.”
“The investigation would further seek clarification of the financial jeopardy to taxpayers caused by the failed ‘Reinvention of Medicaid’ program. Have other service providers sought legal remedies to low payment rates? Has EOHHS provided adequate oversight? What other deadlines have been missed? What harm has resulted from the seemingly unwarranted cuts to nursing homes?
“Additionally, the investigation would seek information on how the botched launch of UHIP has intensified the damage to service providers for medically fragile seniors. Have patients suffered because of the State’s months long backlog of eligibility determinations? What financial jeopardy does the state face from federal fines or claw backs from missing cost shares?
“Not only does this immediate legal fiasco impact the state budget, but the failure of the ‘Reinvention of Medicaid’ to achieve real savings and cost containment has the potential to create serious damage to taxpayer resources for years to come. We must be confident we have the legal expertise to represent the state’s interests and also that we have responsible governance in place.”
“The people of Rhode Island have no confidence in the leadership of Governor Raimondo and her staff to manage these serious problems. An independent investigation will provide the information we need to move forward with coherent solutions. I will be requesting an immediate hearing and hope this resolution is passed by the General Assembly before we adjourn. It is essential for us to prevent and effectively manage future problems caused by Governor Raimondo and her team.”
Peter Ragosta, House Minority Office
Providence, RI 02903