AUGUSTA — Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey has agreed to attend an open forum with former therapists and case managers from Possibilities Counseling, many of whom claim the recently closed Auburn mental health agency owes them thousands of dollars.
The forum is set for 6 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in Jewett Hall Auditorium at the University of Maine at Augusta, said Susan Dore Lamb, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers' Maine chapter.
Possibilities Counseling came under state scrutiny in late August after a pair of surprise inspections found most of the staff had walked out and been replaced by inexperienced friends and family of President Wendy Bergeron. Days after getting a new, conditional license, Bergeron told the state she was closing.
Possibilities had worked with 500 affiliate therapists and case managers with 10,000 patients around Maine. Possibilities billed DHHS and private insurance on affiliates' behalf. Affiliates complain they've gone weeks without pay and some are weighing a class-action lawsuit.
Lamb said she expects Harvey to field questions about bills that haven't yet been submitted to DHHS, about why the state pays therapists at a higher rate if they bill through an agency like Possibilities and how the state vets agencies when they set up.
"She herself is a (master social worker) and comes from this field and I think has an awareness of how shockingly bad this is for people," Lamb said.