Audit: Overspending by Philly’s behavioral health contractor

Many community behavioral health purchases violated the Philadelphia Code, sometimes not following their internal procurement protocols. CBH entered into a consulting services contract that was awarded to an existing employee at the time. Three management contracts were awarded with legacy RFPs to purchase services, without issuing a new RFP. The Behavioral Health Administration does not appear to have reviewed the award of any of those contracts, according to the review.

“And when those rules are not followed, there is really no excuse for that. Working in the city before I became an elected official, the rules are the rules, and it’s not hard, honestly, to follow them,” Reinhart said. Scrutinize so this doesn’t continue.”

The department said it has strengthened and fixed the procurement-related issues, and although the Comptroller’s Office has not verified this, Reinhart said it’s a positive sign.

On multiple occasions, I have incorrectly requested community behavior health and received compensation from the Department of Behavioral Health. Between 2014 and 2018, CBH made recurring expenses totaling more than $6.4 million in compensation. The money was returned to the city, but the comptroller’s office argues that audits failed to identify duplicate bills before payment and to identify overpayments in a timely manner.

Between 2014 and 2017, CBH submitted reimbursement requests for canceled transactions, totaling nearly $1.5 million. Nearly $1.1 million of that amount has not been returned to the city’s Health Options Behavioral Health Fund as of March 2020.

“Every breakdown in policy and procedure, every unnecessary expenditure, means resources are not being used in the most efficient way for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable population,” Reinhart said. “And when you waste millions of dollars, that money doesn’t go to people, it doesn’t go to services, or treatment, or addiction treatment.”

Several recommendations to address the various issues are made in the report. Reinhart said that internal controls need to be strengthened, and that behavioral health management needs better oversight of community behavioral health. Her office will follow up in six months.

In its statement, the CBH said that many of the recommendations have already been implemented over the past five years, since the scope of the audit began.

“There are more than 270 providers in this system if there was no oversight, not accountability from the city in terms of making sure all of this was done, the risk of waste and fraud would go up exponentially,” Reinhart said.

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