The department says the audit documented overpayments to the providers totaling $36 million over a three-and-a-half year period ending in January.
The agency has halted funding to the 15 providers and has turned over the information to the state attorney general.
HSD Secretary Sidonie Squier said her department has lined up providers from Arizona who will offer technical and other management assistance to the troubled agencies. In some cases they may take over management of those agencies, she said.
Squier said the goal is to have as little disruption as possible in behavioral health services.
The department did not identify the providers that were audited. But they account for 85 percent of the spending that’s done on the 30,000 most vulnerable and difficult-to-treat consumers.
Squier said the concerns arose after a software system was implemented in early 2012 that was aimed at detecting fraud and abuse.