The Executive Council unanimously approved $600,000 for Manchester-based Hope for New Hampshire Recovery Wednesday, despite a recent audit finding the organization has failed to comply with state contracts in the past.
Hope for New Hampshire, one of the state’s largest operators of drug recovery centers, announced last month that it would be closing four of its five locations. It cited a recent lack of public funds.
The new state contract aims to keep some of the organization’s locations – in Manchester, Berlin and Franklin – running. It’s unclear what will happen at the remaining two centers, in Claremont and Concord.
Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers is traveling to Claremont next week to meet with city leaders and local healthcare providers there. He said he’s hopeful his department can independently fund the Claremont recovery center, separate from the Hope for New Hampshire organization.
The type of peer-to-peer services Hope for New Hampshire provides are considered a critical aspect of care for those in recovery from drug abuse. Medical providers often refer patients to recovery centers for long-term support.
But before approving new funds for Hope for New Hampshire, several executive councilors questioned Meyers about the organization’s spotty financial and operational track record. A DHHS audit released Monday details failures to comply with a number of requirements in an earlier state contract. That includes an agreement to bill Medicaid for peer recovery services, a business strategy favored by the state because it leverages federal dollars to a greater extent.
The audit is not the only indication of recent challenges at the organization. An NHPR report last year documented allegations of fiscal mismanagement and internal tensions. The state Attorney General's office investigated, but found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
“Why are we giving $600,000 to Hope,” Councilor Andru Volinsky asked Meyers. “Why aren’t we looking to other providers?”
Meyers said that, with the ongoing addiction crisis and a lack of alternate recovery resources in many areas, it would be better to keep Hope for New Hampshire’s services running in the short-term and work out financial and reporting issues going forward. Both options are imperfect, he said.
He said the $600,000 contract was meant to provide transitional support, and said that several of Hope for New Hampshire’s operational challenges are shared by other recovery support providers across the state, which have struggled to grow quickly enough to meet demand.
“This is not meant to be a carve-out,” he said, adding that Hope for New Hampshire has committed to developing a Medicaid billing strategy in the future.
The Executive Council also approved an additional $100,000 Wednesday for the Safe Station program in Nashua, which is facing a $400,000 deficit this year.