The McHenry County Mental Health Board is in the process of establishing a new method of dealing with agencies which it funds.
It was explained by Board attorney Frank Gosser at both the Ethics and Compliance Committee meeting and the 708 Board meeting on August 20th.
Let me try to summarize it.
After an initial report stating adverse findings, which may follow a series of meetings, the criticized agency will have a series of deadlines to meet if it is to be contested.
It will have thirty days to file a written response, which would be an appeal to the Executive Director.
[That seems to me to be virtually pointless, since the original complaint would have had to have been approved by the Executive Director, but maybe such a person could be detached enough to overrule his or her staff and any approval that had been given before the initial report was sent to the agency.]
An additional ten days could be allowed, but that is at the sole discretion of the Executive Director.
So, if the additional ten days is requested and granted, the funded agency would have 40 days to respond to the original audit findings with a request to appeal.
In the thirty days following the appeal the Executive Director, the agency may provide further information to respond to the deficiency findings.
This may include
- proposed remedial action
- [I can’t read my notes for the second item]
- response to proposed remedial action
The Executive Director then makes his or her decision.
If the decision is not appealed, the initial audit report would become final and then be referred to the Ethics and Compliance Committee of the Board for financial recoupment.
If the agency does not agree with the Executive Director’s decision, an appeal directly to the Board members is the next step.
That would have to be done within fifteen days.
The proposal has the Board attorney appointing a hearing officer, another attorney, but one new to the situation and with expertise in mental health law.
That lawyer would conduct the hearing(s) before the 708 Board members.
The hearing would be open to the public.
Within sixty days after the hearing ends, the Board would issue an opinion.
That decision could go on administrative review to the Circuit Court, if the agency so desires, but the judge would be limited to the evidence that had been presented in the hearing before the 708 Board.
“This is not a process where we are trying to get anybody,” Gosser said.
He did point out, however, that the “burden of proof would be on the provider with a preponderance of the evidence” being required.
Gosser is hoping the “Court would say, ‘That’s real due process.'”
Most of this would cost legal fees for the agency in question, of course, and for the 708 Board.
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There is a possibility that the subject may be discussed at the 7AM Monday meeting of the Mental Health Board.