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Good Morning. This is Maine Governor Paul LePage.

We knew we faced many challenges with the Department of Health and Human Services when we took office. Now that Commissioner Mary Mayhew and her new leadership team are in place, it is becoming clear that the problems with Maine’s biggest state agency are worse than we feared.

Before I get into the problems, I would like to share some good news. Our new leadership team at DHHS is finding a great deal of energy and optimism among front line service providers within the department.

Many of the public servants at DHHS have great ideas and are ready to contribute to our reform effort. Working together, we are going to make the Department of Health and Human Services work for consumers, providers and taxpayers.

With that said, there has been additional debt uncovered within DHHS that is enormous.

Tens of millions in budgeting errors have been found which will likely require a new supplemental budget to bridge shortfalls in the MaineCare program through the end of the current fiscal year in June.

What we found includes sixty-six million in overpayments in Maine hospitals, a ten-million spike in weekly claims to MaineCare providers, and a nearly thirty-million dollar targeted case management lawsuit that D-H-H-S lost that will require the state to repay the federal government money we just don’t have.

Work is on-going to determine the total scope of the problems and reforms must be made to better administer Department programs.

Bold moves are needed to bring our government back to the people and return our House to fiscal order. The issues we are finding out about today within D-H-H-S are the result of a Department that consists of thirty-six hundred employees – the largest Department in State government.

The reality is, currently, there are two Departments within D-H-H-S - Health and Human Services.

At first glance, Health and Human Services looks like they are two of the same when really they are separate entities with different functions.

In an effort to streamline government to make it as effective and efficient as possible we need to take a closer look at D-H-H-S and create two Departments.

The mess we are finding at D-H-H-S is another reason the Legislature should move the start of our biennium to the second year of each Legislature. New Governors and lawmakers need time to truly assess the operations of state government before having to prepare new budget submissions.

Currently, the State’s biennial budget must be presented on the 37th day of the new Governor’s term. Given the logistics of drafting and printing the document, all of the major decisions were made before I was in office a month and before most of my commissioners were confirmed.

This is no way to run a State successfully and certainly no way to tackle a six-point-one billion dollar budget.

We need to change the process to help avoid the issue we are faced with today.

Representative Ayotte has sponsored legislation, An Act to Establish a New Method of Determining the State Budget, starting the fiscal biennium in the second regular session of the Legislature. The bill is cosponsored by President Raye, Representatives Cain and Curtis as well as Senators Rosen and Sherman.

Representative Ayotte’s proposal would give all of us the time we need to conduct oversight and work with the agencies to set priorities. I strongly support the bill and would sign it right now if I could.

To get our fiscal House in order we must first understand the entirety of what we are dealing with.

What I’m asking for is a better understanding of the history of our State finances before blindly moving forward with a budget that impacts Mainers.

We don’t expect Mainers to fill our checks without knowing how much money they have in the bank and the State shouldn’t either.

We have the people in place and they are dedicated to improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and the quality of our government. It will not be easy and will take time to turn Maine around, but we will get there by solving one problem at a time and finding solutions that will lead us away from insolvency and the and back to the road to prosperity.

Thank you for joining me this week and I hope you enjoy the weekend.

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