At a press conference yesterday, Democratic lawmakers called for an independent investigation of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, arguing it failed to timely notify the Legislature about MaineCare billing problems. The same day, the Legislature's Health and Human Services committee voted 9-3 in support of a bill to restructure the department.
Democrats said the Republican administration lied about and tried to cover up the MaineCare billing problem, which allowed as many as 19,000 people no longer eligible to receive benefits, according to The Associated Press. Sen. Joseph Brannigan, D-Portland, said the administration intentionally misled lawmakers by not revealing the problem during budget talks earlier this year. DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said she learned of the problem in January and lawmakers were informed in March. In a press release, the Maine Republican Party said the problem originated during the Baldacci administration, and said the Democrats are "using inflammatory rhetoric to try and distract from their own failure of leadership."
Meanwhile, the health committee voted in favor of a bill that would consolidate four DHHS offices into two, reorganize other offices and consolidate contract work. Mayhew said the restructuring would improve delivery of services. Ninety-one positions, many vacant, would be eliminated, while 44 new ones would be created.