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Md. auditors: flaws in DDA verification process

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Local,Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland's Developmental Disabilities Administration has not made much progress since last October on verifying that consumers actually received the services they're supposed to get, according to a follow-up review released Tuesday.

The Maryland General Assembly's Office of Legislative Audits conducted the follow-up after an October audit found the administration's fiscal accountability and compliance rating was unsatisfactory.

The state's health department, meanwhile, said the administration has made progress addressing that concern as well as others mentioned in the October audit.

In April, the agency said it had corrected or made substantial progress addressing 10 of the auditors' findings.

Auditors evaluated seven of those findings in the follow-up review. They generally agreed with the administration that six of the seven findings have been corrected or improved substantially.

However, they found the agency had not yet established procedures to make sure service coordinators perform all of their required duties to ensure consumers have received the services they are supposed to get. They also found problems with making sure officials obtained documentation for the consumers' Medicaid eligibility reassessments.

The review found that "critical details or processes were omitted." In response, the administration said that at the time of the review, procedures had not been finalized.

The review also noted that the administration had said it would perform a quarterly review of 10 percent of the consumers who have lost Medicaid eligibility for more than six months. As of April, those procedures had not been implemented. The administration agreed with the review's finding, saying it plans to finish the first set of 10 percent audits and continue doing them by Sept. 30.

The administration said while its working on the shortcomings cited in the review, five of the seven findings reviewed again this year were found to be corrected, and another was found to be demonstrating substantial progress.

"We are pleased with OLA's follow-up report noting the positive results of the measures we've instituted to strengthen internal controls," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the state's health secretary.

The department said DDA is continuing to strengthen its processes and procedures, focusing on quality enhancement, access to services and fiscal accountability.

"The way forward for DDA incorporates improved operations, programmatic excellence, inclusion of clients' voices and leveraged, key partnerships for improved client outcomes," said DDA Director Bernard Simons.

The agency says it "provides a coordinated service delivery system" to help people with developmental disabilities become integrated into the community. It offers residential services as well as community-based services through a network of licensed nonprofit providers.

Developmental disabilities are impairments in physical, learning or behavior areas that begin during the developmental period, usually lasting throughout a person's lifetime.

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