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.”

    An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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