VENTURA COUNTY: Asked to Repay $17M in Improper Billings
The U.S. Attorney's office has asked Ventura County to pay Medicare back as much as $17 million in "reimbursements as a result of improper billing practices for nearly a decade," the Los Angeles Times reports. Noting that the county may also be required to repay some Medi-Cal reimbursements, county officials said the "settlement would mark the worst political blunder in Ventura County's history." The U.S. Attorney's office discovered the billing problems after launching a probe into complaints by doctors that "their names and provider numbers were being used on Medicare claims for services actually provided by social workers" following the creation of a "1,400-employee superagency" when the county merged its mental health and social services departments. The government allegedly found "illegal billing practices at the county's mental health department dating back to 1990." The merger, since dissolved, was found to violate "Medicare billing rules." The county said it will not fight the repayment, although it hopes to negotiate the total down to $15 million (Johnson, 7/21).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.