Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Betty Adams email@example.com
Lisa Dailey found a ride from Ellsworth to Augusta on Wednesday.
Lisa Dailey's mental health care provider was recently closed, she said Wednesday in Augusta.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy
She couldn't miss the four medical appointments it had taken her months to get.
But finding a friend to drive her more than 90 miles each way was about the only good news Dailey has had recently.
She lost her home in Nobleboro, and is now living in Emmaus Homeless Shelter on Main Street in Ellsworth.
And last week she learned she's lost the services of the Augusta-based AngleZ Behavioral Health Services because the state cut off MaineCare payments to the agency.
Now the 48-year-old woman doesn't know how she will continue her path to re-enter society, but she's even more worried about how hundreds of other people are coping with the reality that suspended payments to both AngleZ and to Umbrella Mental Health Services mean their services are at risk.
"The problem that I have is there are so many consumers that cannot advocate for themselves," Dailey said.
She amplified her concerns in a four-page hand-printed document.
"There is a reason that daily living skills workers are provided to folks with disabilities and challenges of all kinds," the document states. "This is why there are case managers, because people need this support system to recover, to thrive, to gain self-confidence, to have a voice to reintegrate from whatever trauma or challenge they have faced."
Last week, the state Department of Health and Human Services found "a credible allegation of fraud," and so was legally obligated to suspend payments, according to John Martins, DHHS spokesman.
He said that clients of the agencies affected would not lose services, but the DHHS would help them find service providers who are accepting patients.
Dailey said the state has sent letters to the agencies' clients offering names and numbers of other providers, but most people don't realize "what it takes in manpower, coordination and time to 'open up' a new client in any given agency," nor do they recognize the adjustment required for the client to work with new providers.
"These types of services require a plan of action, consistency and a good relationship between provider and client in order to be successful," she said.
Advocating for herself and adjusting to new situations pose less of a problem for her than for many others, Daily said. "I actually owned and operated two businesses, an adult foster home and a cleaning business," she said earlier this week.
But after that, she suffered a non-operable thoracic injury and other problems and needed help with daily living skills and with getting to appointments as well as navigating complex Social Security forms to try to get vocational rehabilitation.
She is eligible for services for three days a week for four to five hours at a time.
"I want to get on with my life. I want to be retrained to be a case manager," she said. "I need help with schooling and with getting to doctors' appointments."
Her more immediate goal is to get a subsidized housing voucher so see can move back to the Rockland area where she has more of a support system.
She's hoping that AngleZ will be back in operation again soon and able to resume her services. "I'm holding out," she said. "I'm hoping this will resolve."
Annalee Morris, owner of AngleZ, said Thursday she too would like to resume full operations. She has appealed the suspension of MaineCare payments to her agency and was looking for a swift and positive response.
"I am hoping the beginning of next week to get positive ruling on the appeal and be back in business next week," Morris said.
She said she did not want to comment on anything to do with the agency's clients except to say, "We have a small crew working to take care of those most in need and most vulnerable right now."
Her agency, which has offices in Augusta and Winthrop, began operations in February.
Morris formerly was a co-owner of Umbrella Mental Health Services, which is located in Augusta.
Payments to that agency also were suspended.
No information about who had brought the "credible allegation of fraud" and who is conducting the investigation was available Thursday.
An investigation is reportedly underway, but it was unclear who was conducting it. Martins said last week that the Department of Health and Human Services identifies "credible allegation of fraud" and the investigation is then conducted by a state or federal law enforcement agency.
A spokesman for the Maine Office of the Attorney General said he could offer no comment, and an email to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services office was returned with a message that the employee who handles Maine is not working because of the federal government shutdown.
Betty Adams — 621-5631