Former Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey said she doesn’t want to get caught up in a “he said, she said” contest with Gov. Paul LePage, but released a written statement in response to his latest criticisms.

The fact that the federal government is doing an audit of Medicaid accounts is not a sign of problems, she wrote.

“In any given year, there could be as many as 30 state and federal audits, which are critical elements of federal oversight and accountability…. such audits are common,” Harvey wrote.

She also defended the agency in general.

“While the new administration has characterized the department as a ‘mess,’ the dedicated staff there has made tremendous progress in improving performance, accountability and transparency. They deal, on a daily basis, with families struggling under the worst of circumstances and with a complicated labyrinth of federal and state regulations. While there is always room for improvement, the current political environment seems to have left the department as a target for unwarranted attacks.”

12:15 p.m.

The LePage Administration has learned of more financial concerns at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Paul LePage announced today.

LePage said former administrators of the agency during the Baldacci administration did not mention multiple problems or potential problems during the transition, leaving the new leadership team to sort through issues involving millions of state and federal dollars.

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew recently learned, for example, that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General will be coming to Maine to audit $138.9 million in federal Medicaid payments for school-based services for years 2006 to 2008, according to the news release. Notice of audit was mailed November 19, 2010, but was not shared with the LePage transition team or the new administration, the release says.

Earlier this month, LePage announced his administration had uncovered budget errors in the department, including $66 million in payments to hospitals in excess of what was budgeted. The state is reducing payments going forward to balance the budget.

Former DHHS Commissioner Brenda Harvey responded this week, saying there was no error and that managers expected to temporarily go over budget while phasing in a new payment system. A former finance manager in the department also said he told the LePage administration about that issue in January.

In his announcement today, LePage said the various budget issues were not disclosed or were not disclosed early enough in the transition to be easily resolved.

“I take former Commissioner Harvey at her word when she publicly claims her team knew about recently announced fiscal challenges in the department. The problem is they coasted at the end without developing solutions before leaving town,” Gov. LePage said.