Fraud in Michigan CILs: The State Cover Up

In Michigan, Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are required by the state to submit a document called “requirements, standards and assurances” in order to become eligible for funding. Each of Michigan’s 14 CILs places the required assurances onto their organization’s letterhead and obtains signatures from the Executive Director and Board President before submitting this document to the state via Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS).

The standards and assurances are intended to determine eligibility for state funding. Because Disability Network West Michigan (Muskegon’s Center for Independent Living) is submitting false statements to MRS, its funding should be in jeopardy. Instead, we have been making a more reasonable request to MRS for the past thirteen months: please contact Disability Network West Michigan and ask them to fulfill their obligation to hold meetings that are “generally open to the public”.

The standards and assurances document has specific statements that Disability Network West Michigan is verifying to be true.

“We submit this annual certification to Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) – Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) to acknowledge and accept our responsibilities as a governing Board recognized as part of Michigan’s network of Centers for Independent Living established under the authority, and in accord with the requirements, standards, and assurances, of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act.  We certify that… the Board meets regularly according to an established calendar of meetings, which are generally open to the public.”

The Muskegon CIL has held its Board meetings in a secret time and location since January 2015 – fifteen months ago. Disability Network West Michigan closed its board meetings to the public as soon as advocates began attending meetings.

Advocates have alerted MRS to the fact that our CIL is submitting sworn statements to the public and the state that are verifiably false. We’ve written repeatedly over the course of months to Suzanne Howell (MRS Director), Alan Kimichik (Inspector General for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services), and Nick Lyon (Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services).

We told them point blank: That’s fraud.

The only response we’ve received was from CIL Contract Analyst Kevin Green, who claims that the standards and assurances document is “unenforceable”. Advocates are left wondering why it isn’t an issue that this grantee is submitting false statements to the state and to the public, and why requirements, standards, and assurances (which are required by the state to establish eligibility for IL funding) are being treated as “unenforceable” and “not legally required”. If the state requires a document as part of a grant package, it is required; if those required statements turn out to be false, eligibility for CIL funding must be reassessed.

MRS is currently conducting an “administrative review” of Michigan’s CILs, including an assessment of *consumer engagement* which raises the question, exactly what are these administrative reviews measuring, if not compliance with the standards and indicators required by the state? 

Unfortunately, MRS has declined to answer that question or act to stop the fraud brought to their attention by Independent Living advocates.

Take Action

You can use our online form contact Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Independent Living Administration, or contact them directly using the following email addresses: kimichika@michigan.gov; lyonn2@michigan.gov; howells2@michigan.gov; bob.williams@acl.hhs.gov; timothy.beatty@acl.hhs.gov.

We cannot abandon an entire state of Centers for Independent Living simply because the state has decided to use America’s Independent Living Program – funded by taxpayer dollars – to do the state’s bidding. Centers for Independent Living belong to the communities they serve. Consumers suffer when our CILs are not consumer controlled, cross-disability, and community-based, as required by law.

CILs, which are required by law to be consumer controlled, must be accountable to and engaged with the disability community. Minimally, CIL Boards need to hear the voice of local disability community! Please act now.

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One thought on “Fraud in Michigan CILs: The State Cover Up

  1. Pingback: Disability Network West Michigan to Close “Open Board Meeting” Immediately After Call to Order – Another Slap in the Face to the Disability Community | Peer Action Alliance

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