Duke University Hospital overstated wage data by $9.3 million in its 2006 Medicare cost report, potentially causing overpayments to all of the hospitals in its statistical area, HHS inspector generals office concluded in audit findings posted May 6.
The 789-bed hospital in Durham, N.C., has agreed to work with its Medicare intermediary to correct the data in its public-use file, which the inspector generals office found would distort the areas wage index for fiscal 2009.
According to the report, more than half the erroneous sum reported in its Medicare Part A wage data was explained by misreported fringe benefits, primarily tuition reimbursement for employees family members who were not active employees of the hospital. Another portion, which Duke disputed in its response to the government, represents costs of services provided by nurse practitioners and clinical social workers generally covered under Part B.
Further mistakes led the hospital to omit 52,000 hours associated with the wage data reported. Together, the errors resulted in an average hourly wage rate of $31.51, which was 2% higher than the inspector generals office concluded it should have been.
We were pleased to be able to work with the OIG to correct certain elements of our wage index data before those data were used in the fiscal year 2009 prospective payment system, Stuart Smith, Duke University Health Systems assistant vice president for reimbursement, said in a written statement. -- by Gregg Blesch
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