HHS To Audit State Medicaid Transportation Services
The HHS Office of Inspector General said it will conduct an audit to determine whether the state Medicaid agencies "make erroneous payments" on transportation services for beneficiaries, according to its recently released 2007 work plan, the Washington Times reports. According to the work plan, Medicaid transportation costs nationwide between 1999 and 2003 increased by 48% to $1.5 billion dollars.
Health care consultant Robin Mathias said Medicaid programs can lose as much as 30% to 50% of nonemergency transportation spending to fraud and abuse, adding, "States may identify likely fraud months or years after payment by analyzing claims data, but the effort is often too little, too late." According to Mathias, transportation service fraud is "very common" because unlike nurses, physicians or medical parishioners, transportation workers do not need professional certification, which "opens it up to a much wider range of people."
Donald White, spokesperson for HHS OIG, said, "Since so much money is involved here, the federal government certainly has a very keen interest in how it is spent" (McElhatton, Washington Times, 10/25).