AUGUSTA – The state auditor says Maine should stop following legal advice to use millions of dollars in federal funds for a psychiatric hospital that’s lost federal certification.

Auditor Pola Buckley says the state keeps using such funds despite facing a $51 million penalty from the federal government for doing so. Maine lawmakers set aside $65 million last summer in case Maine must pay the fine.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is appealing the penalty.

A Department of Health and Human Services representative disagrees with Buckley’s finding and says federal regulators have not offered clear guidance on how Maine can be recertified.

Buckley says Maine has used $54.5 million in federal funds on Riverview since the facility lost certification in 2013.

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