Mental Health Agency Ordered To Repay County
San Diego County is asking the not-for-profit Mental Health Systems to return $83,278 in what county auditors allege were wrongly billed expenses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The agency provides counseling and other services for patients with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems.
According to auditors, two top executives at MHS billed taxpayers nearly $40,000 for fees they received for personally guaranteeing a $1 million line of credit for the agency. The executives received $1,208 per month, and the payments were approved by the agency's board of directors, according to the executives.
The two executives still receive the fee, but no longer seek reimbursement from the county. Not-for-profit management experts said the credit line fees are abnormal and violate the industry's ethics.
Diana Francis, who oversees contract compliance for the county Health and Human Services Agency, in a letter on Monday asked MHS to repay the money by the end of the week.
MHS Chief Financial Officer Michael Hawkey said they agency will not repay the money this week because the county has not provided an adequate reason for requesting the repayment.
MHS also was ordered to repay $44,240 related to other improper billing expenses. The total amount the county is seeking -- $83,278 -- is the result of an investigation of MHS launched last year. Two months ago the not-for-profit was ordered to repay the state $61,000 after an investigation uncovered questionable expenses related to treatment of prison inmates.
The agency has been repeatedly cited for improper and inadequate billing practices over the past three years, although it did not seek reimbursement for many of the charges (McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/15).