Cattaraugus County implements new procedures after audit

After a recent audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Cattaraugus County has begun implementing new procedures to address citations listed against the county jail inmate healthcare system.

According to a press release by the comptroller’s office, the county, in 2011, had discrepancies with 18 healthcare claims in its inmate healthcare services, totaling more than $88,000. The discrepancies in those claims “occurred because county officials did not have adequate procedures to review invoices for inpatient hospital services provided to county inmates and verify that the correct Medicaid rates were used.”

It is therefore possible the county was billed incorrectly in some instances as a result of the lack of procedures in the Sheriff’s Office to review claims for any incorrect rates.

The audit also faulted the county’s Department of Social Services for not submitting some Medicaid-eligible and third party provider claims for reimbursement.

The audit report stated that while the state comptroller’s office was conducting its audit, a corrective action plan immediately began to be implemented, which the auditors commended as a timely reaction to their findings. Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb and County Administrator John Searles submitted a letter to the comptroller’s office explaining the corrective action plan for the audit’s grievances.

“Beginning in August of 2011, the Sheriff’s Office created and started routinely utilizing an ‘intake screen form’ at the jail to screen for third party insurance or Medicaid coverage for reimbursement purposes,” the letter stated. “The Sheriff’s Office continues to use the intake screening form today.”

“Beginning in December 2012, after the jail nurse reviews inmate billing, the Sheriff’s Office was authorized to have a part-time employee work additional hours to help screen, review and compare Diagnosis Related Grouping rates to insure that rates and surcharges are correct prior to submitting them for approval and/or any potential recovery systems,” the report continued.

The county paid more than $230,000 for inpatient and outpatient care services for inmates in 2011.

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