The state comptroller’s office released an audit Wednesday urging the state to apply for a federal Medicaid program to care for ill prison inmates, a move that could save as much as $20 million a year.
Federal Medicaid rules allow states to bill Medicaid for inpatient services received by eligible inmates. Five states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington, already do so, according to a report by North Carolina’s state auditor.
“With state tax revenues lagging projections and the costs of Hurricane Sandy mounting, every state agency should be doing what it can to find additional revenue and cut costs,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement. ”(The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision) should seek reimbursement from Medicaid and other outside insurance providers for any money to which the state may be entitled.”
During the audit period covering March 31, 2008, to March 31, 2010, more than $89 million paid by DOCCS to outside health care providers was for inpatient services. Billing Medicaid for eligible inmate health care costs could significantly reduce the department’s costs for such care.
DiNapoli’s auditors also found that medical care providers were sometimes overpaid by DOCCS. Auditors found five providers were overpaid $84,100 in connection with 141 sampled claims where time billed for hourly clinics exceeded the hours worked. The overpayments ranged from $624 to $73,347. DOCCS subsequently reviewed all the claims for one provider going back to 2005 and identified another $50,769 in overcharges. DOCCS also identified two other providers who have overcharged the state.
A review of 45 claims totaling $711,829 for nine of the highest paid health care service providers found DOCCS paid two claims from two providers totaling $4,134 for procedures that were billed twice.
The audit recommends that DOCCS seek reimbursement from Medicaid or other third party insurance for medical services from outside providers when appropriate and recover the overpayments identified, among others.
Read the full report here: