Billions spent on health care in Md. unchecked for fraud

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- We've learned about a major failure of oversight to make sure billions of your tax dollars aren't being wasted.

A new audit finds Maryland did not try to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in some taxpayer-funded health care.

A report released Monday by the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits found a lack of oversight of some of the $7.6 billion a year administered by the Medical Care Programs Administration (MCPA) that may have led to taxpayers footing the bill for health care and patients that did not exist.

Among the findings:

  • No one checked since 2007 to make sure the $1.1 billion a year in services that hospitals billed the state for were actually provided.
  • The unnamed contractor paid $9 million a year to enroll people for care took credit for patients that did not exist. The failure to meet enrollment targets went on every month, the report alleges, for at least four years.

Legislative Auditor Thomas J. Barnickel III told WUSA9 there was a failure of oversight of Medicaid spending in the state.

"We're not making sure that they are, in fact, doing what we expect them to do," Barnickel said in a phone interview, explaining that a lack of proper oversight is not isolated to MCPA.

"Monitoring contracts is an issue statewide. It's something the state as a whole can do a better job," said Barnickel.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene pledged to do better.

Its inspector general, Thomas V. Russell, told WUSA9 the Department has already recovered this year $28 million that should not have been spent.

"The Department always takes these audits very seriously," Russell said. "We use them as a benchmark to improve our internal controls and monitoring policies,"

"We'll work very closely with the Legislative Auditor to make sure that we implement the action plan," Russell pledged.


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