OMAHA (KPTM) - Christmas is a popular time to help the less fortunate, but Nebraska's state auditor says the state's Department of Health and Human Services has passed up millions in federal money that could help low income Nebraskans.
It might be the holiday season but that's not stopping State Auditor Mike Foley from looking in to the DHHS. In his nearly year-long audit , a lot of information has come out. The latest - nearly six million dollars that wasn't taken advantage of by the department .
Nebraskans pay 20 billion dollars a year in federal income taxes. Some of that money comes back to the state through avenues like the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.
In 2012, the Nebraska's DHHS opted out of applying for that money. During the holiday time of the year, we ought to be reaching out to those people and trying to lift them up a little bit instead of saying, 'no we blew the program , the money is going back to Washington, we can't help you," Foley tells FOX 42 News.
On Monday, Foley appealed to the State Legislature to look into what he calls mismanagement by the DHHS. "Vulnerable people who are really hurting and deserve these kinds of benefits are not getting them because of mismanagement at Health and Human Services" Foley says.
Nebraska DHHS Chief Executive Officer Kerry Winterer for the first time on Wednesday saying, quote: "It appears there is a philosophical difference between the auditor and the DHHS about federal money. " Winterer added "The Auditor seems to be saying if we have additional dollars, we should spend them without considering the long-term consequences."
In a statement Winterer planned to release Thursday morning, he says that in order to take advantage of that nearly $6 million in federal funding , the state eligibility rules would have to change.
"It's very unfair to the taxpayers, because when those bills go unpaid, the rest of us who do pay our energy bills have to make up the difference," said Foley.
This is not the first time Foley has addressed issues with the Nebraska DHHS. He says he is now hoping state lawmakers will take notice and force the agency to restructure.