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DHHS Statement Regarding the OIG Audit Report
August 10, 2017
DHHS appreciates the time OIG spent; however, ultimately the report does not present an accurate picture of the system of protection for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism today.
The Federal HHS Office of Inspector General did an audit of the Maine DHHS reportable events ("critical incidents") system for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism for the period of January 2013 through June 2015. The audit report also includes comments on hospitals, providers, and other caregivers who provide services to individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. The report largely mirrors the OIG's audit reports that were recently released in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
It is important to note that the report provides an historical look rather than evaluating practices as they are today. The audit period includes a time of significant transition after DHHS merged the Office of Elder Services (OES) and the Office of Cognitive and Physical Disability Services (OACPDS), to create the Office of Aging and Disability (OADS). The Department recognizes that issues identified by OIG did exist during this transitional phase, many of which were discovered prior to the time of this audit and have been addressed by the Department. We are proud that we have successfully made improvements since the audit period.
DHHS appreciates the time OIG spent; however, ultimately the report does not present an accurate picture of the system of protection for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism today. The report inaccurately suggests that currently DHHS and providers who serve individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism are failing to protect vulnerable individuals in Maine. It is unfortunate that this OIG audit focuses on a small fraction of selective data and fails to evaluate the bigger picture of care and services. The Department expressed to OIG that this is a complex system with many programs working together to assist and protect a vulnerable population and that the OIG's approach did not capture all of the necessary data. The Department also suggested that the OIG consult with medical professionals to better understand some important areas of concern. Because the OIG narrowly focused on a subset of data, the conclusions drawn in the report are, in many ways, incomplete.
Additionally, the Reportable Events (critical incidents) rule requires that providers perform administrative reviews of certain critical incidents. The Department did not instruct providers otherwise. During the audit period the Department did not collect administrative reviews from providers. Please note that, under the Reportable Events rule, providers are required to perform administrative reviews of critical incidents other than incidents involving alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation, which are handled through Adult Protective Services to avoid any conflict of interest in the investigation process.
DHHS is committed to continuously evaluating and improving practices to better serve our neediest and most vulnerable populations, regardless of whether an audit is occurring or not. In no way should this report tarnish the dedication of so many individuals who work across the state to provide critical services to those who need them.
Please note that the Department's full response to the audit report, which was provided by the OIG in draft form, is included in the final section of the OIG's audit report and available for download (*PDF).