SHARP: Federal Audit Finds Deficiencies in Home Care Division
Sharp Home Care came up short in its second federal audit, which found that San Diego's largest home health care agency provides substandard care to Medi-Cal, Medicare and private insurance patients. For the second time in a year, HCFA found Sharp noncompliant in several areas, including insufficient nursing assistance, medication errors, "inadequate" agency administration and "significant problems with care for severely disabled patients." The agency is now threatening to terminate Sharp Home Care's contract to provide services to Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that through its Sharp Advantage Health Plan, parent company Sharp HealthCare holds one of just seven local Medi-Cal managed care contracts under the "Healthy San Diego" program. Should Sharp's home care division fail its third inspection and lose its Medi-Cal and Medicare certification, it could present "a major problem for the Healthy San Diego program." County HHS Director Dr. Robert Ross said he has "some definite concerns" regarding Sharp's certification status. For its part, Sharp disputed the charges, claiming they stem from documentation or computer problems. Pointing to the "top marks" its home care division won in 1997 from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals and Health Systems, Sharp asserts that the HCFA report stands in sharp contrast to accreditation agency findings. HCFA of San Francisco official Janice Caldwell intimated that the agency will give Sharp "one more shot," noting that "[t]hey provide an important service. My job is not to put them out of business; but to rehabilitate them" (Dalton, 2/23).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.