Audits Find Desert Counseling Clinic Overbilled Kern, San Bernardino Counties
Desert Counseling Clinic, which has a $5 million annual contract with Kern County to provide mental health and substance abuse services, has been overbilling the county for services and owes $500,000 in past overpayments, the Bakersfield Californian reports. The county began auditing the mental health clinic earlier this year and found the payment discrepancies, according to Kern County Auditor James Rhoades. "There's not sufficient documentation to support the claims they've billed to the county," Rhoades said. In 1998, the clinic lost the majority of its Kern County government contracts, totaling $6.7 million, when the auditor found "incomplete" documentation, accounting errors and "inadequate" supervision of trust accounts and cash payments. The 1998 audit also found that the county mental health department had overpaid the clinic more than $1 million over five years. In 1999, the county reinstated several contracts with the clinic after its bookkeeping improved and new board members were appointed. In addition to the Kern County audit, a "routine check" of billing and payments by San Bernardino County health officials has found that the clinic owes them $160,000 from overbilling. Desert Counseling CEO Terry Cumberworth did not return calls by the Californian for comment. The clinic continues to see both Kern and San Bernardino county patients (Terwilleger, Bakersfield Californian, 11/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.