Auditor To Examine Spending At Kentucky Mental Health Agency

Jun 9, 2012

 

 LEXINGTON, Ky.  --  Kentucky's state auditor has said he will examine spending at central Kentucky's state-backed provider of mental health care.

Auditor Adam Edelen sent a letter to the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board on Thursday after stories published by the Lexington Herald-Leader showed the nonprofit agency spent lavishly on executive compensation, political lobbying and real estate.

Bluegrass is chiefly funded by the Kentucky Health and Family Services Cabinet, which paid it $126.2 million last year plus $32.5 million in Medicaid.

"The auditor has a responsibility to the public to perform an independent examination to ensure that the public's money handled by Bluegrass is being spent in the best interests of the taxpayers. Accountability and transparency are essential, especially during difficult economic times, to ensure that Bluegrass is providing maximum benefit to the taxpayers from the state funds it expends," Edelen wrote in his letter obtained by the newspaper.

Scott Gould, chairman of the Bluegrass board of trustees, said they expected a state audit once the stories were published.

"We intend to be fully transparent and cooperative with the state auditor's office," Gould wrote in an email message Friday.

Board members visited with employees throughout its 17-county territory because employees were upset because they believed Bluegrass was spending more generously at the top than where patient care is provided, board member Bill Alverson said.

"These board members are taking this very seriously," Alverson said. "Our employees are our No. 1 asset. We have people who haven't had a raise in three or more years. My view has been that we need to look into this."

The auditor said his staff will examine policies, accounts, transactions, governance and other activities at Bluegrass. Edelen did not say how long the audit is expected to take or what it could cost, although the subjects of audits typically are handed the bill at the end.

"Bluegrass has a solid record of providing quality care to many of our state's most vulnerable citizens," Edelen said in a statement. "But an agency that receives a significant portion of its funding from taxpayers has an obligation to be accountable and transparent, not just effective."