708 Board’s Audit Committee Takes Conciliatory Stance Toward TAG

The Audit Committee of the McHenry County Mental Health Board met this morning to hear the audit findings on The Advantage Group, known as “TAG” for short.

The first part of the meeting was a presentation of findings the inside compliance officer found troubling.

A sample of 160 files were taken from a specific time period and ten percent were examined in detail.

There were three complaints:

  • that billing was made to both the Mental Health Board and private insurance or Medicaid in cases where double billing was prohibited by the insurance company or Medicaid  (“We cannot supplement Medicaid.”)
  • that one of the bills showed billing that appeared to be physically impossible for the clinician
  • that intake activity was billed, a prohibited practice

Extrapolating from the apparent assumption that all billings from TAG were faulty, staff estimated that the 708 Board had overpaid TAG over $1.1 million over three years, the assumption seemingly being that it had to be paid back.

Under rules of the 708 Board, the time for contesting the audit’s findings is past.

Interim Executive Director Todd Schroll warned that the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Human Resources is also probing The Advantage Group.

The Mental Health Board's grant process flow chart.

The Mental Health Board’s audit flow chart.

Former County Board member Don Larson, now a member of the 708 Board observed, “In the past we’ve had these problems with other providers and worked out a plan to repay or get less funding.

“Can that still be done?” he asked.

Duane Lahti, Manager of Data/Information Systems, reply:  “If we do it, it’s a change to the process.  That’s  why we’ve come to you.”

Attorney Frank Gosser pointed out that there had already been “conversations between staff and TAG.”

He warned about subverting the process and “creating a scenario where other providers” would be treated differently.

“Could we start this process over or could we just talk to them,” asked Audit Committee head Heather Murgatroyd.

“We need to have some discussions about settlement,” Schroll said.

“We would be very surprised that TAG wold survive whatever the Office of Inspector General would [find],” Gosser added.

“We’re at the point where you have to sue them or [otherwise] work it out.”

“I don’t question the validity of the audit,” new member Carrie Smith said.

Commenting on the $1.1 million that the audit says TAG owes, Schroll explained, “There is some concern of the money out there.”

He suggested a settlement agreement that is “contingent upon what we’re expecting the IOL is going to report.”

Larson wanted to know how long TAG might have to pay any money back.

“Probably ten years,” Gosser replied.  Immediately thereafter, he suggest it “could be over twenty years.”

“It’s not a question of whether people are getting good service, quality service,” the IT man observed.

Smith then revealed she had agreed to be on the Board to provide “services for all people who need them.”

She worried that TAG would end up “dead, dead, dead.  If we take the highest line possible, they’re not there.”

“I don’t believe the answer is necessarily $1 million,” Schroll replied.

Gosser said the current status does not eliminate the possibility of a discussion.

He said her was hearing concern for the people who need services provided by TAG.

When he asked now departed Executive Director Sandy Lewis last year, she told him that there was enough support within the county to meet the needs of all the people.

“I would very much like to go forward,” Smith said.

“I believe they are interested in moving ahead,” Schroll replied.

Gosser stressed that in any agreement TAG would have to “earn the money” by “providing services.

“You can’t just give money away.”

[No mention was made of the $1.4 million loan, never repaid, to Family Services.]

“They need access to substance abuse services,” Schroll said.  (Later he noted that there was $425,000 allocated to substance abuse services.)

Smith observed that many community members thought the dispute between TAG and the Mental Health Board was pretty ugly.

“How can we start out fresh,” she asked.

Gosser minimized the intensity of the dispute, recalling the July 25, 2012, meeting at which “TAG was very gracious in admitting, ‘We made some mistakes.'”

In answering the question of how to move forward, Schroll suggested engaging a mediator.

“We are not trying to victimize the provider…

“There’s no question they are successful in many that they serve.”

“Clearly, there were some billing errors,” Murgatroyd said.  She wondered if TAG staff needed training assistance.

“We should make the approach to TAG and get this started,” Larson concluded, but added, that he was unwilling to advance more money.

“We’re not talking about quality of service; we’re talking about money,” Gasser said.

“I think what I’m hearing this morning is very positive,” said Cathy Garrey, Compliance and Quality Assurance Manager.

“I feel validated…If there’s a way to make this work…I don’t see any problem moving forward.”

Smith indicated the Board’s goal should be “being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and serving those in [most] need.”

County Board members Mike Walkup and Donna Kurtz attended the meeting, as did the new 708 Board President Rob Routzahn.

= = = = =
The Northwest Herald’s story by Kevin Craver can be found here.


708 Board’s Audit Committee Takes Conciliatory Stance Toward TAG — 9 Comments

  1. Blessed are the peacemakers…

    Sounds like this new board that has its focus on moving forward.

    How refreshing to see a board look at the good of an agency and their importance to the community verses what as transpired in the past.

    The lawyer has to go because clearly his remarks seem ridiculous and pure speculation.

    For what end? and

    Thank you Ms. Murgatroyd, Ms. Smith and Mr. Larson for caring about the real issue which is the survival of this valuable agency.

  2. That Gosser guy doesn’t make sense. Sounds like he wants to make sure that TAG doesn’t survive. What does he mean, “there are enough services”? Is he kidding? Everything he said was ominous and threatening but where are the facts? I’m with you 4Truth, the Board did a great job of assuring us in the community that they are committed to those in need and exhibited true leadership.

  3. Only people being “good stewards” appeared to be the chairman and committee board members. The other people (not sure if they are all employees?) seemed to contradict themselves.

    If it is “about the money”, was there a CPA in this audit? Is the CPA,Gosser or Gasser? Why was he making all of the negative statements?

    What does the IT guy mean, “its not about people getting good service?” I hope this statment was taken out of context.

    If its not about that, what else could the MHB possibly be about?

  4. I would halt all payouts from the 708 board until every “client” receiving tax payer dollars is reapproved.

    We wasted way too much on administrative cost on the previous management.

    How much was wasted on fraudulent claims?

  5. Millions spent by the MHB on its own administration which serves no one and nothing given to TAG in over 2 years which keeps on giving to this community.

    This agency was targeted for untold reasons and once the ball was rolling, the MHB couldn’t stop it.

    Its about time to start over, the allegations are unjustified and this agency wrongfully accused.

    The community believes in this agency and asks the leadership to step in and save this agency.

  6. Happy to see these two organizations are willing to reach a resolution, move forward and continue to serve the clients who reside in McHenry County. Our communities can’t afford another quality organization to diminish.

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