After a two year search, Democrat Governor Kate Brown has been unable to find a new superintendent for Oregon’s psychiatric hospitals, putting patients who rely on mental healthcare at risk. Now, a report by the Register-Guard explains that Kate Brown’s growing Medicaid scandals could be behind her administration’s inability to fill the position.
After almost two years of active recruitment, the Oregon Health Authority still hasn’t found a new superintendent for the state’s psychiatric hospitals, triggering growing concerns among advocates for people who are mentally ill.
The superintendent is a top state government post leading Oregon’s two psychiatric hospitals, the 610-bed facility in Salem and the 174-bed one in Junction City. Those hospitals employ 1,900 people and have a combined annual budget of $275 million — almost all of it state funds.
Others wonder if leadership turnover at the OHA following a series of scandals, or Gov. Kate Brown’s abortive proposal last December to shutter the Junction City psychiatric hospital, dampened the search.
The OHA oversees a wide range of services, including the Oregon Health Plan for low-income residents, which recently has been hit by charges of waste, weak management and worse.
After three OHA scandals were exposed just this year alone, including $112 million in improper payments, $74 million in overpayments to Medicaid providers, and revelations that nearly 55,000 people were wrongly receiving benefits, it’s no surprise that talented individuals are staying away from working in Brown’s mismanaged state government.
Kate Brown continues to prove that she lacks the capability to effectively manage state government. Oregon deserves better.