AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's Health and Human services Commissioner Mary Mayhew Friday defended herself and the department against charges of mismanagement.
Democrats in the Legislature have pointed to an ongoing series of problems inside DHHS -- from Medicaid rides to the loss of federal funding for the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital. Mayhew told NEWS CENTER today she and Human Services staff are trying to solve long-range problems, while the critics are trying to score political points.
In an interview with NEWS CENTER, Mayhew praised the department staff, and said they are actually making progress on some of those big problems. She says the Riverview Hospital team has been making changes, even as the state appeals a cutoff of federal funds. Mayhew says a new mental health unit at the State Prison will open in February.
She says the DHHS is also trying to keep the pressure on Medicaid ride program contractor CTS, and look for replacement contractors. She defends hiring a controversial million dollar consultant, the Alexander Group, to help redesign Medicaid programs and get more flexibility from the federal government. But Mayhew does not defend shredding documents at the Maine CDC, saying that was a violation of department policy.
But on the bigger issue-the accusation by Democrats the department is being mismanaged, Mayhew says its untrue and unfair. " I am offended that this has all been about the politicization of the department," said Mayhew. She says the problems are complex and demand complex solutions. However, Mayhew said she believes she can continue to work with the Legislature. She said as Commissioner, she is ultimately responsible for what the department does, but also said the problems cited by Democrats are not the result of mismanagement.
On Thursday, Governor LePage defended the department's handling of all four issues, and praised Mayhew. The Commissioner said she appreciated his support.