Focusing on accountability, DePasquale announces surprise audits of Medicaid contractors

    Pa. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale speaks during a Capitol news conference with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, on 4/24/19 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

    State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Wednesday that his office is launching what are, effectively, surprise audits of a half-dozen contractors hired to provide services to seniors and people with intellectual disabilities.

    The “targeted” audits are intended to make sure the state is getting the most bang for its Medicaid buck, DePasquale said during a state Capitol news conference Wednesday.

    “Taxpayers pay billions of dollars a year for the medical and human services that are provided by vendors hired by the [state] Department of Human Services,” DePasquale said in a statement issued by his office. “I will make sure the services being billed to the state are actually delivered to the patients.”

    DePasquale’s news conference came just about a week after Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a fellow Democrat, released the results of a grand jury report recommending ways to reduce fraud in Pennsylvania’s $33 billion Medicaid program.

    DePasquale told reporters that his office’s actions came not in response to Shapiro’s, but rather stemmed from conversations he had with Senate budget appropriators during annual budget hearings in February.

    To that end, he was joined Wednesday by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, who said the “targeted” audits would further complement current state oversight efforts.

    The “targeted” audits were authorized under a 2018 state law, and the 2018-19 budget includes a $500,000 appropriation to fund them.

    The six vendors, which are of varying size and are spread across the state, were randomly chosen to give DePasquale’s auditors a cross-section of the provider community. The six providers were notified Wednesday that they had been selected.

    Browne and DePasquale added that the targeted audits would put other providers across the state on notice that they, too, could find themselves singled out for scrutiny without any warning, and would encourage them to keep their own fiscal houses in order.

    “This will give people more confidence [that] the money that’s being spent in the provider community is being spent the way it’s supposed to be spent,” Browne said.

    DePasquale said Wednesday that he’s confident the vendors will participate willingly in his office’s audit. But, he noted, “anything is possible.”

    John L. Micek
    John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.

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