OASAS: State Comptrollers Audit flags overdue inspections,
inadequate follow-up by OASAS

December 6, 2021

Article below from today’s Crain’s Health Pulse (below).

Here’s a link to the 12/3 Comptrollers Report:



State audit flags overdue inspections, inadequate follow-up by OASAS

The New York state Office of Addiction Services and Supports is failing to properly inspect and monitor residential programs for adequate care of their patients, according to an oversight report released Friday by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

DiNapoli’s office found that the Office of Addiction Services and Supports is not meeting requirements to inspect residential programs in a timely fashion and fails to follow up on deficiencies it identifies during inspections.

The audit, using the timeframe from April 2017 to February of this year, examined OASAS’ oversight of 76 community residential and supportive living programs. These programs are designed for patients who are finishing or have finished substance-abuse treatment and need clinical support before they start living independently.

OASAS is supposed to conduct unannounced, on-site inspections of residential programs ahead of its operating certificate’s expiration date, which is determined based on its compliance score in past inspections; programs with worse scores see their certificates expire sooner.

Each recertification review involves an inspection of the program facility’s conditions, patient records, employee qualifications and compliance with reporting requirements. Inspectors also assess the program’s financial information and capability to financially support services.

The state comptroller’s office found that all the programs examined in the audit were overdue for recertification reviews, and 64% were more than a year overdue even before the pandemic, when on-site reviews were halted.

Among a sample of 25 programs, the audit found that OASAS did not sufficiently follow up on 40% of the 243 deficiencies it identified during inspections.

In one example cited in the audit, OASAS found that program staff had not properly completed consent forms for the release of confidential health information, but the agency did not verify that staff had been retrained on the form’s proper use.

“This lack of oversight and action poses an increased risk to the safety and security of the conditions of programs and the vulnerable populations served,” the comptroller’s office wrote in the report.

OASAS did not respond to a request for comment.

In response to a draft of the comptroller’s findings,OASAS General Counsel Trisha R. Schell-Guy wrote that the agency “acknowledges in several instances we did not meet the recertification review requirement” but “respectfully disagrees with the inference that no oversight or monitoring … occurred during the audit period.”

Schell-Guy said recertification reviews are only one of the agency’s oversight methods, which include interim regulatory compliance reviews and fiscal reviews.

OASAS had halted recertification reviews in 2016 to encourage providers to spend time applying for certification under a new model that required additional staffing and enhanced programming, Schell-Guy added, but providers struggled to convert to the new model in the following years.

State Sen. Pete Harckham, who chairs his chamber’s committee on alcoholism and substance abuse, said the audit “reveals a need for serious improvements.”

Harckham said the agency’s “inadequacies” could be more readily addressed if the state declared a state of emergency to fight the opioid epidemic, which would empower authorities to marshal additional resources to fight overdoses and bolster prevention and recovery services.

Within the next 180 days, the OASAS commissioner is required under state law to brief state officials on steps the agency has taken to implement the comptroller’s recommendations.

The Office of Addiction Services and Supports oversees about 1,700 prevention, treatment and recovery programs that collectively serve 680,000 New Yorkers each year, including inpatient and residential programs that serve about 8,000 patients.—Maya Kaufman–