A routine HHS audit found that "questionable" accounting methods at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Jacksonville, may have resulted in Medicare overpayments to the health insurer of as much as $110 million from 1995 to 1998. Auditors also said some of the numbers remain in dispute because the Blues plan refused or delayed access to key financial documents. In a written statement, the Blues plan, which serves as the Florida fiscal intermediary, defended its handling of the Medicare money and charged that HHS' auditors "lacked experience." It also denied obstructing the financial probe and said it has created a dedicated team to work with the auditors. During the four years in question, audits identified $5.2 million in unallowable charges, including $89,000 for lobbying, $361,000 for expenses unrelated to Medicare and travel costs exceeding federal limits. The auditors also flagged for review an additional $104.8 million in charges, including $677,342 for executive compensation in excess of legal limits. In 1996 Florida Blues' Chairman and CEO William Flaherty earned $1.98 million, according to the Orlando Business Journal. -- by Laura B. Benko
HHS raises questions about Fla. Blues' accounting
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