Springfield Republican: State should absorb some early voting costs (Editorial)
February 15, 2015 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
One of the state auditor's jobs is to identify unfunded mandates that require municipalities to shoulder new burdens without supplying the cash required to do them.
Auditor Suzanne Bump is correct to say the state should absorb some of the costs associated with early voting, which has caught on with voters and will likely continue to grow.
Unfunded mandates are the bane of local budgets. They represent the state's order to institute policies, programs or practices without providing adequate financial means.
Read more from the Springfield Republican
2/14/17 - Worcester Telegram
2/14/17 - Springfield Republican
2/14/17 - The Sun Chronicle
2/15/17 - Newburyport Daily News
2/15/17 - WAMC
2/16/17 - Mansfield News
2/21/17 - Boston Herald
Worcester Telegram: Auditor: Worcester dental firm overbilled MassHealth $250K
February 13, 2017 - The following content was originally published by the Worcester Telegram.
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump is asking a Worcester dental practice to repay the state nearly $250,000 after ruling it received improper reimbursements from MassHealth.
MassHealth, which provides insurance to people eligible for Medicaid, accepted the findings of the audit, while the practice, Webster Square Dental Care, defended itself in state documents.
At issue are reimbursements the practice – located at 17 Young St. with a second office in Fitchburg – received from MassHealth for X-rays of teeth. Ms. Bump found that the office, contrary to MassHealth regulations, billed the state for X-rays of teeth taken during routine examinations.
The Salem News: Our view: Stopping the endless water and sewer breaks
January 25, 2017 - The following content was originally published by The Salem News
Salem is not alone in confronting major issues with aging water and sewer systems. A report released by state Auditor Suzanne Bump last week estimated that $16 billion will be needed to upgrade water and sewer systems in Massachusetts over the next two decades. That translates into huge costs for cities and towns — costs that simply cannot be absorbed by ratepayers or local taxpayers alone.
This is an area where federal dollars are not only needed, but appropriate. After all, in addition to the other costs, cities and towns in Massachusetts will need to spend $1.5 billion to meet new stormwater regulations set by the federal government.
The issue, to be clear, is not the regulations. Everyone wants clean water, and those regulations are there to ensure the safety of our drinking water and our rivers and harbors. But they need to come with federal dollars as well as state dollars; the burden is simply too large for local taxpayers to bear alone.
Read more from the Salem News
Newburyport Daily News: $18B for Water, sewer repairs
January 18, 2017 - The following content was originally published by the Newburyport Daily News.
Aging water and sewer pipes will cost Massachusetts communities nearly $18 billion in upgrades, according to an auditor’s report that is prompting calls for state intervention.
The report released Tuesday by state Auditor Suzanne Bump said cities and towns are struggling to cover the cost of infrastructure. It estimates that $7.24 billion will be needed for water systems and $8.99 billion for wastewater treatment systems over the next two decades.
In addition, cities and towns face another $1.58 billion in upgrades to meet stringent new stormwater rules set by the federal government.
Read more from the Newburyport Daily News.
1/18/17 - Berkshire Edge
1/19/17 - Newburyport Daily News
1/19/17 - Lowell Sun
1/21/17 - Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise (SHNS)
1/22/17 - Metro West Daily News
1/23/17 - Springfield Republican
1/23/17 - NEPR
Springfield Republican: Strengthening our social safety net (Guest viewpoint)
December 21, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican.
For many, it is easy to dismiss our state's social safety net as something that is only for others, in reality, many of our friends, family, and neighbors count on to make ends meet. For example, nearly 800,000 Bay Staters receive food assistance through the SNAP program each month, accounting for $1.2 billion in benefits annually. More than a quarter of our state's population receives health insurance coverage from MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program, which makes up $13.6 billion in annual spending, and roughly 38 percent of our state's annual budget.
Helping to ensure that these programs operate with integrity is one of the roles played by the Office of the State Auditor.
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
WWLP 22 News: Massachusetts State Auditor examines cost of early voting
December 14, 2016 - The following content was originally published by WWLP - 22 News.
Massachusetts saw a record voter turnout last month, with more than 3.3 million ballots cast in the 2016 elections. About one-third of those residents voted before Election Day.
The State Auditor is responsible for determining the financial impacts of new laws that go into effect. Auditor Suzanne Bump is trying to figure out how much it cost each city and town to implement early voting this year.
Read more from WWLP-22 News.
Sentinel & Enterprise: State Auditor Suzanne Bump to push 'accountability agenda' on Beacon Hill
December 8, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Sentinel & Enterprise.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump on Wednesday outlined three bills she will push in the Legislature that she says will boost accountability in state government, including one that would give her access to corporate and personal tax returns.
Other bills would allow her staff to see the vast amount of state agencies' data stored on cloud servers and would require agencies to quantify the impact of unfunded state mandates they impose on municipalities.
Now she is launching what she calls her "Accountability Agenda" in the new legislative session, which opens Jan. 4.
Read more from the Sentinel & Enterprise
Springfield Republican: Audit: Northampton social services agency charged unallowed salary, alcohol expenses against state contracts
December 7, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
Nonotuck Resource Associates failed to maintain full personnel files, paid consultants without valid contracts, and improperly charged the state $4,304 for executive director salary payments and alcohol, according to a report released Tuesday by state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump.
"For fiscal year 2014, Nonotuck charged $4,304 of unallowable expenses against its state contracts," Bump's Dec. 6 audit report reads. "Of this amount, $3,916 was for salary payments to the executive director that exceeded the amount allowed by the regulations of the state Operational Services Division, and $388 was for alcohol."
Berkshire Eagle: Sheriffs' reports lacking data on inmates across Mass.
December 7, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Berkshire Eagle.
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump reported Wednesday that the Massachusetts Sheriffs' Association came up short when providing required information regarding inmate populations and the rates of recidivism in each facility.
"Our audit found that while the MSA was set up to help facilitate communication between Sheriffs' departments, the Association did not have the tools or the policies and procedures in place to do so," Bump said. "At a time when there is an increased focus on improving our criminal justice system, essential information about the county corrections experience is not being made available. This makes it more difficult for policymakers and the public to make informed decisions."
Read more from the Berkshire Eagle.
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Climate, government trust on legislators’ minds at WMass summit
December 3, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
How can the state better serve western Massachusetts communities in terms of education, agriculture and clean energy? Could there be a solution to unfunded mandates that cripple small town budgets?
And what about the 45 Massachusetts towns that still don’t have broadband?
Valley folks had a chance to pose those questions to lawmakers including Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, and state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump at Saturday’s Westen Mass Legislative Summit, hosted by the Hampshire Council of Governments.
Looking toward next year’s legislative session, Bump gave a talk about her “Accountability Agenda” earlier in the day. In a time where citizens do not trust the government, the auditor’s office is more important than ever, Bump said.
“I believe in our democracy, and if our government is going to live up to its architects’ expectations, it needs a solid foundation of public trust,” Bump said.
Read more from the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Springfield Republican: MBTA did not collect $1.8 million in overdue funds, audit finds
November 22, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
More than $1.8 million is due to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, according to an audit released by the office of the state Auditor Tuesday.
The audit found long overdue account balances have been left on the books, totaling $1,863,103 more than 90 days past due. Approximately half of the funds are more than a decade past due, according to the Massachusetts state auditor's office.
"The MBTA should take all appropriate steps to collect funds that are due to the agency, but should also realistically write-off balances that are not likely to be recouped. This ensures an accurate picture of the financial status of the entity," Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said in a statement.
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
11/23/16 - Metro
CommonWealth Magazine: Audit: Plainridge Casino falls short in hiring goals
November 21, 2016 - The following content was originally published by CommonWealth Magazine.
A new audit says the Massachusetts Gaming Commission dropped the ball in its mandate to ensure that Plainridge Park Casino met its agreed-upon local hiring goals and that the state’s only slots parlor failed to garnish winnings of patrons to pay back delinquent child support.
“Allowing Plainridge to not accomplish its plan goals could result in less economic benefit to the community than was intended by the law that created” the gaming commission, says the report from State Auditor Suzanne Bump. “In addition, Plainridge’s noncompliance with its plan could expose it to revocation or nonrenewal of its license.”
Read more from CommonWealth Magazine
Springfield Republican: Auditor Suzanne Bump hopes to identify barriers to accessing welfare benefits
November 15, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican.
Massachusetts auditor Suzanne Bump said Tuesday that she plans to perform an audit within the next year on what the state can do to ensure that people who are eligible for public assistance are signing up for it.
"We don't want people who don't belong in these programs to have access to them," Bump said in an interview with The Republican/MassLive.com in her office. "On the other hand, there is a growing body of research that suggests that not everyone who really could participate in these programs is doing so."
Bump announced her intention to look at barriers to access on the same day as she released an annual report showing that her office identified $15.45 million in public benefits fraud in fiscal 2016. Bump said she sees the issues as two sides of one coin — ensuring that people who need the programs get help but that the money is being spent wisely.
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
WCVB: Deplorable living conditions found at Chelsea veterans’ home
October 27, 2016 - The following content originally appeared on WCVB.
No one would confuse the Chelsea Soldiers' Home for luxury housing, but a scathing new report by State Auditor Suzanne Bump along with a visit from 5 Investigates shows that one of the oldest veterans homes in the country is in serious need of repair at best. At worst, according to the auditor's report, it's forcing veterans to live in "unsafe and unsanitary living conditions".
"It's inexcusable," Bump told 5 Investigates' Karen Anderson.
...The Chelsea Soldiers’ Home told the Auditor’s Office that the unsafe and unsanitary conditions have been repaired, and supplied pictures showing all of the instances of disrepair had been fixed.
Watch the whole story on WCVB.
Worcester Magazine: State auditor’s tool ‘harnessing 21st-century business analytics’
October 26, 2016 - The following content was originally published by Worcester Magazine.
The Rules Based Risk Engine, an innovative data analytic tool developed by the Office of the State Auditor, helps resolve previous deficiencies in auditors’ means of data collection. The RBRE effectively modernizes auditing, Bump said, by harnessing 21st-century business analytics.
“This tool is not intended to reduce staff,” Bump said in a lecture Wednesday afternoon at Clark University. “It is to free them of extraneous duties so they may focus on the more critical components of data collection.”
Read more from Worcester Magazine.
Springfield Republican: Audit finds East Longmeadow nonprofit charged state more than $22K in unallowable expenses
October 20, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
An audit released Thursday of an East Longmeadow nonprofit human-service agency found the firm charged more than $22,000 in expenses prohibited by state regulations.
According to a review by the office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump, East Longmeadow-based Aditus Inc. charged various state departments for expenses such as gifts, catering, and alcohol between July 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015.
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
10/20/16 - WWLP22 -NEWS
New England Public Radio: Mass Auditor: Parole Board Needs To Improve In Collecting Fees, Evaluating Parolees
October 20, 2016 - The following content originally appeared on New England Public Radio.
A report released Wednesday by the state auditor said the Massachusetts Parole Board has not been following its own rules for fee collection or re-evaluating former prisoners.
Parolees have to pay a fee to cover the cost of their own supervision. The report says almost a quarter of those fees went uncollected in the 2015 fiscal year. Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump said the parole board has adequate procedures but does not always follow them consistently.
Read more from New England Public Radio.
WWLP: New police coming in from out of state didn’t go through required training
October 17, 2016 - The following content originally appeared on WWLP-22NEWS.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office discovered that the Municipal Police Training Committee did not ensure all new out-of-state hires were educated on Massachusetts laws before starting the job.
Police officers from another state must complete an online training course within 90 days to begin working in Massachusetts. The training program gives the officer an overview of state laws, suicide prevention, hate crimes, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
The training is critical to ensure that communities are safe, and that officers know about the state and its laws before starting the job.
Read more from WWLP-22NEWS.
Standard-Times: Audit of Ernestina Commission finds pair of things going wrong
October 11, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the New Bedford Standard-Times.
A routine state audit of the Schooner Ernestina Commission found problems with late-filed business and spending plans, and gaps in the accounting for the lead that was aboard the schooner when its current restoration project began.
“The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR, which includes the commission), did not keep adequate documentation of a credit of as such as $50,000 from a contractor,” said the report.
The auditors called on the DCR and the commission to keep better records and step up its work getting the budget and business plans filed properly and on time. The commission and DCR indicated that they would.
Read more from the Standard-Times.
Springfield Republican: Massachusetts medical transportation company charged with cheating MassHealth out of $19 million
October 5, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican.
The owner and managers of a medical transportation company have been indicted on charges of bilking MassHealth out of $19 million.
The Republican/MassLive.com first reported on Healey's investigation of Rite Way in October 2015 after Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump identified $16 million in potentially fraudulent charges made to MassHealth. Bump's audit found that the company had submitted claims for wheelchair transportation for people who did not need wheelchairs. It also submitted claims for transporting patients from their homes to medical appointments at times when the patients were hospitalized or when records show the patients never went to an appointment.
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
Wareham Courier: Communities slow to regionalize 911 centers
September 26, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Wareham Courier.
While the state has encouraged cities and towns to regionalize their 911 call centers to boost public safety and save money, relatively few communities are following suit.
“Part of the issue, I think, is a lot of localities don’t want to give up control of their PSAPs,” said Frank Pozniak, executive director of the Massachusetts 911 Department.
PSAPs, or “public safety answering points,” are the call centers where 911 dispatchers field emergency calls and coordinate responses. There are currently 247 such call centers in the commonwealth, down from 267 eight years ago.
“Massachusetts is an extreme outlier in the number of local call centers it maintains, and the nearly $4 million in grants to locals to explore regionalization has produced little result,” Bump said in a statement. “As a consequence, our consumers are paying more than they should and are not receiving uniformly good service. I urge the Baker-Polito administration and the Legislature to consider more aggressive management, more effective incentives, or outright mandates as possible solutions.”
Read more from the Wareham Courier
State House News Service: Audit faults MassHealth Payments, Cites $$$ for Gifts, Golf
September 6, 2016 - The following content was originally published by State House News Service.
Citing "systemic problems" in the payment process governing the state's largest program, Auditor Suzanne Bump on Tuesday released an audit showing more than $300,000 in inappropriate payments for adult foster care services at MassHealth.
The payments, made by MassHealth to the Worcester-based human services provider Centro Las Americas Inc., covered services that clients received through the home health program from other providers, according to the audit that examined Centro's activities from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015.
"The payments for duplicative services to Centro Las Americas are concerning, but more concerning are the patterns of systemic problems in the payment process at MassHealth," Bump said in a statement. "This audit shows that once again, MassHealth is not only ignoring their own regulations, but also directing providers to disregard them as well. These regulations ensure transparency and accountability on how public dollars are spent, and cannot be ignored in favor of rule-making by email outside of the public view."
Read more from State House News via WWLP - 22News
Springfield Republican: Despite cost benefits, cities and towns slow to regionalize 911 dispatch centers
September 2, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
According to a recent audit by state Auditor Suzanne Bump, 30 applicants representing 208 communities have received $3.8 million in state grants since 2008 to study regionalization. Only 14 of those applicants, representing 83 communities, have regionalized or are in the process of doing so.
"Massachusetts is an extreme outlier in the number of local call centers it maintains, and the nearly $4 million in grants to locals to explore regionalization has produced little result," Bump said in a statement. "As a consequence, our consumers are paying more than they should and are not receiving uniformly good service."
Read more from the Springfield Republican
CNN Money: This job interview question was just banned in Massachusetts
August 2, 2016 - The following content was originally published by CNN Money.
A recently-passed pay equity law requires Commonwealth employers to pay men and women equally for comparable work. It also prohibits them from asking candidates about their salary history as part of the screening process or during an interview.
Supporters of the law say disclosing salary requirements can hurt the wage trajectory of women since they tend to earn less than men.
"The gender wage gap has a real impact on the lives of women. It puts families at risk, and makes self-sufficiency in retirement more difficult," said State Auditor Suzanne Bump in a statement.
Read more from CNN Money.
Cape Cod Times: Cape college reprimanded in state audit
August 1, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Cape Cod Times.
Cape Cod Community College put state resources at risk by failing to perform an inventory of $46 million in capital assets and a fraud risk assessment in fiscal 2015, according to a recently released state audit.
A 19-page document issued by State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump’s office July 25 also said the college's internal control plan was not based on guidelines issued by the Office of the State Comptroller.
“Internal control questionnaires are intended to help state agencies ensure they are accurately protecting their resources and are mitigating risks so they can effectively conduct their work and meet their mission," Bump said in the report. "Poor internal controls and not conducting risk assessments puts the commonwealth’s resources at risk."
Read more from the Cape Cod Times
Metro West Daily News: Auditor faults Framingham State University for weak inventory controls
July 18, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Metro West Daily News.
Framingham State University has assembled a task force to review its inventory control measures after state auditors found problems with how the school’s property is tracked.
In a report released Monday, state Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office outlined numerous concerns regarding the inventory control practices at FSU, saying the school is at risk of losing property or exposing sensitive data.
“Our colleges and universities are uniquely challenged since their campuses are open to students and the public and it is difficult to secure all property,” Bump said in a written announcement. “That said, the first step in property accountability is logging what you have and developing procedures to track it. FSU needs to improve in these fundamentals.”
Read more from the Metro West Daily News.
WGBH: Audit Finds $15 Million Wasted On Double Services For Disabled Adults
July 13, 2016 - The following content was originally published by WGBH.
The state's Medicaid office improperly paid over $15 million in taxpayer dollars for programs that aid disabled adults, according to a report being issued by State Auditor Suzanne Bump Thursday.
"So essentially, the state was paying twice," Bump told WGBH News.
Bump said she doesn't think the problems with adult foster care payment have anything to do with the change from a Democratic administration in the corner office to a Republican one.
"In fact, I would have thought that this administration would have been even quicker on the uptake because they are extremely focused on management changes to control costs, and yet they let this one lapse," she said.
Read more from WGBH.
Braintree Forum: State Auditor Suzanne Bump accepts NSAA award
June 19, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Braintree Forum.
Representatives from the office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump recently accepted an National State Auditor’s Association Excellence in Accountability award at a ceremony at the NSAA Annual Conference in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Bump’s Medicaid Unit received the award for an audit of MassHealth’s administration of Managed Care Organizations and related fee-for-service payments. The audit found over half-a-billion dollars in improper or unnecessary payments, and missed savings opportunities by MassHealth.
“Ensuring state agencies are accountable to residents of the commonwealth for the use their tax dollars is a critical component to restoring public trust in government,” Bump said. “I’m honored that our office has been recognized by our peers as a leader in the promotion of accountability, transparency and innovation in government.”
Read more from the Braintree Froum.
Daily Hampshire Gazette: State finds Northampton dentist improperly billed MassHealth
May 17, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
A state auditor’s report has found that two dental offices owned by Dr. Samer Tahoun, including one in Northampton, improperly billed MassHealth a total of $290,417.
In a report released Tuesday, state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump found that Hampshire Family Dental, on Center Street in Northampton, and Orchard Family Dental in Indian Orchard improperly billed MassHealth for periapical radiographs totaling some $290,417 between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2015.
A periapical radiograph is an X-ray that shows the whole tooth from the top to the jaw. MassHealth allows the X-rays to be taken as part of a full-mouth series of radiographs only once every three years, or to evaluate specific problems, such as in the instance of an infection, according to the report.
Read more from the Daily Hampshire Gazette
Southcoast Insider: Bump’s Office Receives National AwardMay 10, 2016 - This following content was originally published in Southcoast Insider.
Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today announced that her office has been selected to receive the National State Auditors Association (NSAA) Excellence in Accountability Award for its audit of payments made by MassHealth for services that should have been paid for by Managed Care Organizations (MCO). The audit for which the Auditor’s Office will receive this award found over half-a-billion dollars in improper or unnecessary payments, and missed savings opportunities by MassHealth. Bump will accept the award on behalf of her agency at the NSAA’s Annual Conference in June.
Read more from Southcoast Insider
5/10/16 - WWLP
5/10/16 - Valley Patriot
Taunton Daily Gazette: Our View: Late rules for early voting
May 9, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Taunton Daily Gazette.
Massachusetts voters will be able to cast a ballot two weeks before the Nov. 8 presidential election this year, but the rules to enable the early voting are running rather late. A key provision of the state’s election reform law, approved and signed into law in 2014, mandates early voting in all Massachusetts cities and towns 11 business days before a biennial statewide election and two business days before Election Day. Among several other election reforms, the law also allows for online voter registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, which will begin in August.
While early voting is a good concept to increase ballot access, part of the problem with the law, as State Auditor Suzanne Bump recently pointed out, is that it does not offer municipalities any funding for it. Some municipal officials have also cried foul over the lack of state guidance on the issue. Brian McNiff, spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin, said that his office is still consulting with city and town clerks to get their input before finalizing the rules, which are expected later this month.
Read more from the Taunton Daily Gazette
Boston Globe: State paid hundreds of thousands to deceased people, report says
May 4, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Boston Globe.
The State Retirement Board paid more than $687,000 in pension benefits to 105 dead people because it used outdated death data for more than a year, according to a state audit released Wednesday.
The error, which also led to about $271,000 in underpaid death benefits for members of the state employee pension system, was the focus of a report by the Office of the State Auditor that also called for the agency to step up oversight of its roster of nearly 60,000 payees.
Officials also said they had recovered $608,785 worth of the erroneous payments and restored all of the underpaid benefits.
“We are confident that it has gotten resolved,” Nicola Favorito, executive director of the retirement board, said in an interview.
Berkshire Eagle: Shedding light on state funding mandates
May 4, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Berkshire Eagle
Beacon Hill often passes legislation designed to benefit local communities, although there are no certainties until the laws are put into practice. What is certain is that too little is known about their financial impact.
A review by state Auditor Suzanne Bump's Division of Local Mandates (DLM) found that 97 statutory provisions became law between 2011 and 2015 had an impact to some degree on municipalities. However, the division is only allowed to review whether legislation constitutes an unfunded mandate. While that is valuable, there is a large middle ground between funded and unfunded.
The study found that the majority of the 97 laws were related to education, employment benefits, elections and public safety. That too, covers a lot of ground.
Read more from the Berkshire Eagle
Governing: States Struggle to Manage Medical Transportation
May 2016 - The following content was originally published by Governing Magazine.
The dialogue around providing accessible health care includes such big issues as high-priced prescriptions, overuse of emergency rooms and a burgeoning need for long-term care. One topic that gets relatively little attention, but could have a big impact on accessibility, is transportation. It represents a tiny fraction of the total spent on health care, but it has been a big challenge for states to manage.
This piece of the health-care puzzle affects 7.1 million people, according to the nonprofit Altarum Institute, which provides health-care research and consulting. A chunk of this group are Medicaid patients. The federal government requires transportation reimbursement for all Medicaid recipients.
Massachusetts, for example, audited a company that had contracted to provide wheelchair van services based on a fee-for-service model...State Auditor Suzanne Bump says that “the administration of the program has not been its strong suit.” The provider’s failure to comply with the terms of the program was so blatant, she adds, “it blew the auditors and me away.”
Read more from Governing Magazine
Modern Healthcare: Medicaid's unmanaged managed care
April 30, 2016 - The following content was published by Modern Healthcare
Regulators say the vast majority of states spend most of their time auditing fee-for-service claims instead.
In a scathing 2014 report, the Government Accountability Office said more oversight was needed. The government's oversight agency suggested the CMS require states audit payments both to and by private Medicaid insurers.
“All states are focusing even more attention on auditing as the costs associated with Medicaid programs increase, and increase at a faster pace than state revenues,” said Suzanne Bump, Massachusetts' state auditor. Last year, her office found that Massachusetts' Medicaid program made more than $500 million in unnecessary, duplicative payments to providers. Instead of faulting the state's six managed-care companies, though, Bump placed nearly all of the blame on the state's flawed claims administration processes.
Read more from Modern Healthcare
Daily Hampshire Gazette: Editorial: Relief needed from ‘unfunded mandate’
April 26, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
When lawmakers beefed up the state’s school employee background checks by adding fingerprinting four years ago, few argued against the idea of keeping children safe.
When the Legislature two years later OK’d a law establishing an early voting period, few argued against making voting easier for all residents.
What legislators didn’t include in these proposals — as well as nearly 100 others since 2010 – was money for cities and towns to cover the cost of implementing these rules. Officials have argued for years that the state continues to pass so-called unfunded mandates that, however well intended, burden them financially.
It happens a lot. Over the five years ending in December, the Legislature passed 97 new laws with a “significant financial impact” on cities and towns, according to a recent study released by state Auditor Suzanne Bump...But the unfunded mandates must be taken within the context of a steady erosion of state aid and a lack of options for raising local revenue.
Read more from the Daily Hampshire Gazette
Springfield Republican: Suzanne Bump on point with MassHealth audit: Editorial
April 22, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican
The job of the state auditor includes surveillance to uncover waste and fraud. In this respect, Suzanne Bump deserves credit for her diligence in reviewing MassHealth practices.
MassHealth costs amount to about 40 percent of the entire state budget. A system that large is prone to abuse and lack of oversight, which is where the auditor's office comes in.
The questionable claims are sizable in terms of dollar amount but less than 4 percent of the total MassHealth cost. But Bump is correct in saying the matter goes beyond bottom-line concerns and to the heart of public trust that is being violated.
Read more from the Springfield Republican
4/20/16 - Boston Business Journal
4/20/16 - Boston Herald
4/20/16 - Boston Magazine
4/20/16 - Springfield Republican
4/20/16 - State House News Service/Lowell Sun
4/20/16 - WWLP-22 News
The Sun Chronicle: Franklin health equipment provider overbilled state by half-million dollars
April 19, 2016 - The following content was originally published by The Sun Chronicle.
A Franklin company overbilled the state by more than a half-million dollars and is now working to repay the funds.
Auditor Suzanne M. Bump released an audit Tuesday of Hudson Home Health Care, a provider of durable medical equipment, which found that improper billing practices resulted in $557,006 in overpayments from MassHealth for wheelchair components.
Read more from The Sun Chronicle
WWLP/SHNS: Cities and towns becoming more dependent on local money
April 7, 2016 - The following content was originally published by State House News Service and WWLP - 22 News.
Over five years ending in December, the Legislature passed 97 new laws with a “significant financial impact” on cities and towns, and over that same period the percentage of municipal budgets funded by state aid has dipped, Auditor Suzanne Bump found in a comprehensive study.
From fiscal 2011 through fiscal 2015 state aid increased by $467 million to a total of $5.1 billion, but over that same period state aid slipped as a percentage of municipal budget sources from 21.14 percent to 20.22 percent, according to a report on the study that was released Wednesday.
Read more from WWLP
041116 - Amherst Bulletin
WBZ: I-Team: Rhode Island Man Held on Welfare Fraud Charges
April 6, 2016 - The following content was originally published by WBZ.
A Rhode Island man appeared in Attleboro District Court on Tuesday, accused of ripping off Massachusetts taxpayers and illegally collecting welfare benefits while living out of state.
After the I-Team story, the case was referred to the Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI) in the Office of the State Auditor.
Last year, the investigative unit identified $13.7 million in public benefits fraud, according to an annual report.
Currently, investigators search for multiple out-of-state transactions to find potential welfare fraud. However, Auditor Suzanne Bump is proposing a bill that would give the BSI subpoena power.
Read more from WBZ.
4/6/16: The Sun Chronicle
Bourne Courier: Bourne 'Rec' Authority scores clean state audit
April 5, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Bourne Courier.
Bourne Recreation Authority in an audit conducted by the Massachusetts State Auditor’s Office scored highly with “adequate controls and practices” in all areas reviewed for fiscal years 2014 and ’15.
Read more from the Bourne Courier.
Springfield Republican: Overbilling, data breach delivers one-two punch to Northgate Medical PC in Springfield
April 4, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
Just weeks after a state audit found that Northgate Medical P.C. had substantially overbilled MassHealth, the Springfield-based medical group is now dealing with a data breach involving the theft of patient information – including their names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.
A former Northgate employee obtained the patient information before leaving the medical group, according to Northgate officials, who notified patients and urged them to take steps to protect their credit.
The former employee took the information for "marketing purposes," Northgate said in a March 22 statement, "and not for reasons related to identity theft or fraud." Northgate reported the theft of patient information to Springfield police and urged patients to notify credit bureaus and monitor credit reports.
Read more from the Springfield Republican
Greenfield Recorder: State Auditor Suzanne Bump talks addiction, accountability at annual Chamber breakfast
March 25, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Greenfield Recorder.
For State Auditor Suzanne Bump, increasing the government’s transparency and accountability is the key to earning the public’s trust.
That’s the charge of her office, and it was the prevailing theme of her keynote address at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce’s annual breakfast Friday morning, where she spoke about the addiction crisis facing the state, her office’s efforts to reduce government waste or ensure resources are properly allocated, and how the public’s trust in government might be restored.
Bump put a special focus on addiction, a topic that’s been front and center in Franklin County and the region for the past two years.
Read more from the Greenfield Recorder
3/25/15 - WWLP
Bay State Banner: Charter waitlists: Cap effect overstated?
March 20, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Bay State Banner.
The dispute over charter waitlists heightened last week as Citizens for Public Schools, a public education advocacy organization that opposes lifting the charter cap, issued a new assessment of the demand for charter schools. CPS asserts that the actual number of students who seek charter seats and would have greater access to them if the cap is lifted is vastly lower than that cited by charter proponents. Soon after, State Auditor Suzanne Bump weighed in.
Read more from the Bay State Banner.
Capitol Ideas: States Use Data Analytics to Reduce Medicaid Fraud
March 4, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Council of State Governments' magazine Capitol Ideas.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump, first elected to office in 2010, concluded in the audit report that $233 million was spent unnecessarily when MassHealth paid providers directly for services that should have been paid by managed care organizations that receive a set amount to cover health care costs for their members. Another $288 million could have been saved if the MassHealth contracts with the managed care organizations were clearer about what services should have been covered.
Bump is proud of the savings the auditor’s office has realized through substantial recoupments and criminal prosecutions, but more important to her are systemic improvements made in state program administration.
“Certainly, audits of providers punish wrongdoing, serve as deterrents to others and lead to recoupments, but the greatest fiscal impact comes about when the MassHealth program is able to improve its operations, for then the benefits are realized over the long term,” she said
Read more from Capitol Ideas.
Springfield Republican: Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne Bump: Theft of more than $45K in client funds from West Springfield mental health center due to 'inadequate' oversight and protections
March 3, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
Deficiencies in the Gandara Mental Health Center's oversight of client finances, inadequate protections over the agency's own finances, and a lack of supervision on decisions involving staff, board members and related organizations ultimately led to the theft of more than $45,000 in client funds, a state audit released Thursday has found.
Massachusetts Auditor Suzanne M. Bump urged the West Springfield nonprofit organization, which contracts with state agencies to provide residential, mental health, and substance abuse-related services to children, adults and families, to strengthen its financial management and improve internal controls.
WWLP: MassHealth will have to act fast to reclaim money from Northgate
February 26, 2016 - The following content was originally published by WWLP.
The State Auditor received word Friday morning that Doctor Jose Azocar plans to shut down his practice at the end of March. The Auditor said this could be a tactic to avoid repaying $191,000 he owes to MassHealth.
MassHealth will have to act quickly to reclaim that money. The Auditor’s office found that Northgate Medical Primary Care, located on Liberty Street in Springfield, was billing MassHealth for services that are more expensive than the services that were actually provided.
Read more from WWLP.
2/25/16 - Springfield Republican
Governing Magazine: The Complicated Business of Evaluating Tax IncentivesFebruary 25, 2016 -The following content was originally published by Governing Magazine.
States give out billions to businesses and corporations each year in tax breaks to keep them within their borders. But tracking how these tax incentives are spent -- and whether they even work -- has been an incredibly tricky business.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump has been trying since she took office in 2011 to gain access to business tax returns at the Department of Revenue (DOR) for the purposes of auditing the tax credit programs. Bump is stymied by a state law that bans the auditor from accessing business tax information filed with the department. "Although we are told to audit the tax department, we cannot actually look at tax returns," she says. "If you can't look at the source documents, you can't know how well DOR is executing its functions."
Read more from Governing Magazine.
Worcester Magazine: Auditor’s office finds probation deficiencies at Worcester District Court
February 22, 2016 - The following content was originally published by Worcester Magazine.
The Massachusetts State Auditor’s office has released a report from a review of probation supervising fees (PSF) at Worcester District Courthouse and 15 other locations, and found that the WDC does not have a centralized method of tracking community service hours and some judges allow probation officers to choose between a PSF and community service despite laws against that practice.
The report summarized findings from an audit started in 2012 and encompassing 16 total court systems.
Read more from Worcester Magazine
Herald News: State Audit: Fall River District Court lost out on $800K in probation revenue
February 22, 2016 - The following content was originally published by the Herald News.
Fall River District Court does not effectively track community service performed by probationers, according to Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump.
Bump’s office also said that Fall River District Court, because it lacks a centralized method of tracking probationers’ community service hours, cannot readily determine how many community-service hours are owed, what the community service amounts to in dollars and whether offenders will be able to fulfill their court-ordered requirements on schedule.
Read more from the Herald News.
Concord Journal: Concord District Court faulted in audit for fee collection procedure
February 13, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Concord Journal
A state audit has determined that Concord District Court (CDC) had a $300,000 shortfall in the collection of fees charged to defendants placed on supervised probation.
According to the audit of the Massachusetts Trial Court by the office of State Auditor Suzanne Bump, covering the period from July 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2013, CDC collected and transmitted $383,260 of probation service fees (PSF) compared to potential PSFs of $690,885, a difference of roughly $300,000.
Read more from the Concord Journal
Boston.com: Gov. Baker helps launch new website that ‘fact checks’ charter schools
February 12, 2016 - The following content was originally published on Boston.com
Governor Charlie Baker joined many of the state’s charter school advocacy groups at a State House event Friday afternoon where they rolled out a new “fact check” website about charter schools. The site’s creators said it will address what they call misconceptions about the schools.
But, shortly after the event, the state’s auditor Suzanne Bump issued a statement that said the campaign was misstating the findings of an audit her office conducted in 2014.
“The campaign itself needs to check its facts,” she said. “The campaign uses my office’s audit to demonstrate that there are currently over 37,000 students on the wait list. Our audit specifically states: ‘We estimated that unduplicated counts taken at the end of the lottery process in March 2013 should have been no more than 38,034 students (with 14,800 from Boston), as opposed to the 40,376 unduplicated count reported by [the department].’”
Read more from Boston.com
Sentinel & Enterprise: Editorial: Let's identify fraud before it occurs
February 8, 2016 - The following content was originally published in the Sentinel & Enterprise
If there's anything that spikes the blood pressure of every Massachusetts taxpayer, it's cases of fraud within the already generous public-benefits system, which accounts for more than one-third of the state budget.
And unfortunately, in agencies that disperse more than $13 billion annually-- primarily in health-insurance coverage and food and nutritional aid -- there's going to be abuses.
Evidence of that comes from the unit within the state Auditor's Office charged with uncovering false claims. Fortunately, the stellar work of Auditor Suzanne Bump's Bureau of Special Investigations identified a record $13.7 million in benefits fraud in the last fiscal year -- nearly a 50 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
While Bump noted that these continually escalating fraud figures are more a reflection of this probe unit's growing expertise rather than representative a rampant escalation of cheating within the system, it still can't excuse the waste of precious tax dollars.
Read more from the Sentinel & Enterprise
3/1/16 - New Boston Post
Milford Daily News: Milford District Court audit clean in face of statewide problems
February 2, 2016: The following content was originally published by the Milford Daily News
In audit of Milford District Court's probation supervision fee system came back clean.
The audit is part of a statewide look at the probation fees in the court system. It follows a report released by State Auditor Suzanne Bump that details widespread problems in the Massachusetts court system regarding probation transactions.
Read more from the Milford Daily News
Springfield Republican: Top Baker budget official urges lawmakers to hold line on government spending
February 2, 2016: The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican
Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore stressed the need to hold the line on government spending, as she answered questions on Tuesday from the legislative committee tasked with writing the state budget.
During her testimony, Auditor Bump said her office generates money for the state by identifying fraudulent and wasteful spending. Since 2011, she said audits have identified $1 billion in unallowable or questionable spending.
"When you consider the annual budget of our agency - less than $20 million - and compare it to the impact we have, it is clear that our work improves efficiency and accountability in government spending, and that diminishing our resources is counterproductive," Bump said.
Read more from the Springfield Republican
Springfield Republican: SNAP benefit fraud: How do state investigators know how much there is?
January 31, 2016: The following content was originally published in the Springfield Republican
Investigators with the State Auditor's Office identified $4.58 million in SNAP benefits fraud during fiscal 2015 and have targeted another $1.7 million in the first half of this fiscal year.
But those numbers, provided by the auditor's office, are not the total amount of fraud identified in the state's food benefits program, which receives about $100 million per month in federal funding.
Read more from the Springfield Republican
New Bedford Standard Times: Auditor: Cities and towns to get $2.76M for 2016 Elections
November 23, 2015: The following content was originally published in the New Bedford Standard Times.
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump notified cities and towns across the Commonwealth that they will get more than $2.76 million to cover the cost of extra mandated polling hours for the 2016 March Presidential primary, and the 2016September state primary and the November final elections. “The administration of and participation in elections is the very core of our democracy, and increasing accessibility to polls is crucial to the success of the process,” said Auditor Bump in a news release. “However, it is important that we not overlook the impact this type of decision can have on municipal budgets. Placing the financial responsibility on the state is a great compromise to protect cities and towns while also ensuring that people have access to polling locations.”
Read more from the Standard Times.
11/24/15 - Attleboro Sun Chronicle
Quincy Patriot Ledger: State Auditor tracks impact of homeless families housed in local motelsNovember 18, 2015: The following content was originally published in the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
Earlier this year, an investigation by Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office found that the state’s emergency assistance program of sheltering homeless families in motels cost the 25 host cities and towns as much as $13 million a year and that communities could be missing out on $1.7 million in excise taxes. Bump called on the State Department of Housing and Community Development to track and confirm that excise taxes from the motels are paid to the local communities. On Wednesday, she reported that between July and September, the first three months of the fiscal year, Weymouth was paid just under $31,000 in excise taxes generated by the state-funded emergency shelter program. Brockton, which has 145 homeless families living in local motels, saw $58,578 in excise taxes for the same period, the highest amount among host communities in Massachusetts.
Read more from the Patriot Ledger.
Quincy Patriot Ledger: OUR OPINION: 3 people who are using their offices to help end addiction crisis
November 23, 2015: The following content was originally published in the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
At last Monday’s legislative hearing on the governor’s opioid bill, what was lost amidst the controversy over Baker’s proposal for 72-hour commitments for those who had overdosed was testimony presented by state Auditor Suzanne Bump. One could be forgiven for asking what contribution a state auditor might make to the fight against opioid addiction. It turns out, a big one.
Read more from the Patriot Ledger.
Boston Herald: Auditor seeks closer look at film tax credit data
October 27, 2015 - This content was originally published by the Boston Herald.
State Auditor Suzanne Bump is renewing her call for more access to data on the state’s controversial film tax credit and other lucrative incentives in the wake of a Herald report that highlighted the practice by filmmakers of selling them to companies and individuals whose identities remain shrouded from public view.
“I firmly believe that the Legislature and the public need more information as to the efficacy, that is, the fairness and effectiveness, of all of our business tax expenditures,” Bump said in a statement to the Herald, calling on lawmakers to give her the power to review “all the information” reported to DOR.
“Not to audit individual companies,” she explained, “but to determine which types of businesses are benefiting from the billions of dollars’ worth of tax breaks in our tax code.”
Read more from the Boston Herald.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette: State audit finds no issues at QCC
October 26, 2015 - The following content was originally published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Quinsigamond Community College appears to be humming along fine, according to a recent audit done by state Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office.
The latest report, a regularly scheduled performance audit that looked at the college’s activities from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, "did not identify any significant deficiencies" in the areas auditors focused on, according to the executive summary.
Read more from the Telegram & Gazette.
Quincy Patriot Ledger: Our Opinion: 3 stories of those doing their jobs and doing them well
October 5, 2015 - The following content was originally published by the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
Oftentimes, when a public, private, or government agency is in the newspapers, it's because it somehow failed in its duties and breached the public's trust.
This week, however, we bring you three stories of those who are doing their jobs and doing it well.
On Friday, state Auditor Suzanne Bump released her performance audit of Old Colony Elder Services based in Brockton. The nonprofit, which serves the elderly and disabled, receives nearly $20 million of its $34 million in annual revenue from state contracts. The auditor’s office is charged with ensuring it is well run.
Read more from the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
WCVB: Auditor: Ride company over-billed state in 'deliberate wrongdoing'
October 5, 2015 - The following content originally aired on WCVB.
MassHealth’s largest vendor for non-emergency transportation improperly billed the state for more than $16 million dollars in rides, putting in for more expensive wheelchair van claims when instead the clients were almost all able to walk, according to a report released Monday afternoon by State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump.
“I think this is a case of deliberate wrongdoing,” Bump told 5 Investigates.
The newly released audit also says that Rite Way, which until recently was by far the largest provider of non-emergency transportation to MassHealth customers, made claims for hospitalized clients when in fact “transportation never occurred” and also billed the state for rides to methadone clinics when clients never received treatment.
WBZ: Keller @ Large: Can DCF be fixed?
October 4, 2015 - The following content originally aired on WBZ.
After another week of negative headlines for the Department of Children and Families, WBZ political analyst Jon Keller asks State Auditor Suzanne Bump what can be done to fix chronic problems at the troubled agency.
Bump says one major issue is that DCF social workers say that they communicate better with schools, courts, and law enforcement that sister agencies in the executive branch.
View more from WBZ.
Springfield Republican: State auditor applauds changes at Department of Children and Families during Holyoke visit
September 30, 2015 - The following content was originally published by the Springfield Republican.
Days after the governor announced the new policies, which aim to reduce caseloads and retain and recruit social workers, Bump told the Holyoke Golden Seniors that she's pleased to see state officials lead on this front, particularly in the wake of recent, high-profile child deaths and 2014 audit findings.
"I'm rather excited about the fact that they are looking to the audit that we have done, but also looking to a report that was done by the Child Welfare League of America that found the same kinds of problems that our audit did," she said, during an event at the Holyoke Council on Aging. "And getting back to basics and rebuilding that agency from the start – not trying to put a Band Aid on a symptom, but looking holistically at the agency."
Read more from the Springfield Republican.
Boston Business Journal: State's venture arm criticized over job-reporting practices
September 28, 2015 - The following content was originally published by the Boston Business Journal.
MassVentures, the state's venture capital arm, isn't doing enough to verify data around the jobs impact of its various investments, according to a recently published audit.
The report, which includes data from fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2014, comes roughly five years after MassVentures drew criticism from the state regarding its methods of collecting and verifying data about Massachusetts jobs stemming from its investments. The venture outfit reports on its jobs-creation stats annually to the Legislature.
Read more from the Boston Business Journal.
Boston Globe: Opinion: To fix DCF, first transform the culture
September 25, 2015 - The following content is from an Opinion column authored by State Auditor Suzanne Bump which was originally published on bostonglobe.com.
Each tragic headline this year has made the public wonder anew why the Department of Children and Families has not yet fixed itself. After all, the Legislature restored some of the funding it had cut from its budget, the governor appointed a new leader who is instituting changes in policies and procedures, employees and parents have provided input into an improvement process, and many of the social workers now have iPads for more timely record-keeping. Like many of our most persistent problems, however, the solutions require more than money and technology, or even new ideas. They require an emphasis on addressing root causes and on collaboration from across state government.
...Think about the reasons why DCF is called in to help a family. Poverty, mental illness, domestic violence, substance abuse, sexual abuse. If we really want to help the families served by DCF, the administration needs to create greater collaboration and support from agencies that provide the social services DCF families need. DCF families don’t live in silos, and neither should DCF.
Read more from Auditor Bump's column on bostonglobe.com.