June 06, 2020
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State says it overstated Manna Ministries debt by $2,500

Correction: This article misstated the amount the state has reduced the debt owed to it by Bangor’s Manna Ministries. In response to an email inquiry about whether Manna Ministries still owes the state $1.3 million, the Department of Health and Human Services responded that a “program integrity audit” had reduced Manna debt to $496,836.23. DHHS failed to mention that Manna also owes $796,927 for what it labels “cost settlements.” DHHS has reduced Manna’s overall debt by only $2,507.26.

BANGOR, Maine — The Department of Health and Human Services vastly overestimated how much a local nonprofit organization must repay for overbilling, state officials said Friday.

Rather than $1.3 million, Manna Ministries only owes the state $496,836, according to department spokeswoman Samantha Edwards.

When the Bangor Daily News told Manna Executive Director William Rae on Friday how much the debt had dropped, he said, “I feel totally blessed.”

The original figure, released in April 2016, was based on a statistical analysis intended to determine how much Manna had overcharged the state for Medicaid reimbursements and for the addiction recovery clinic it then operated in Medway. A review of the analysis found that it overstated Manna’s errors, according to a 10-page report that then-department Commissioner Mary Mayhew signed in June 2016 but that was not released until Thursday.

Manna auctioned off its Main Street headquarters last October because of its debts. However, Edwards said that the state has received only $1,583 from Manna since June 2016 and that “the state did not receive any [sale] proceeds.”

Now operating out of the Congregational church on Union Street, Manna remains the only organization in Bangor that serves a nightly meal to homeless and working poor. Rae said it serves up to 100 meals an evening.

“My biggest concern is that I serve a meal to everyone,” Rae said. “That’s all I want to do.”

The DHHS review indicates that Administrative Hearing Officer Michael L. LeBlanc examined 51 exhibits supplied by DHHS officials, plus 100 randomly selected health insurance claims filed with the state by the Medway clinic from 2010 to 2013.

His examination found that 13 signatures — ones supposed to be provided by a patient or a clinician — were missing. According to the report, the errors were accidental.

“In asserting its claim of overpayment, the department does not assert that Manna engaged in fraud or any intentional wrongdoing,” the report said.

Rae said he will meet with DHHS officials to discuss paying down the debt.

Manna moved to its current home in May after having been in an office space on Center Street for less than a year.


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