Louisiana inappropriately received nearly $20 million from federal funding directed at uncompensated care provided to Hurricane Katrina evacuees, HHS inspector generals office estimated in an audit report posted Oct. 24.
The conclusion was based on a sample of $8 million in costs claimed for inpatient psychiatric services provided to 100 patients. The federal money was limited to services covered under state Medicaid plans, and Louisianas plan covered inpatient psychiatric care only for patients ages 22 and younger and 65 and older. Those parameters were not met by 97 of the patients in the sample, according to the report. Also, some of the patients didnt receive services on the dates reported, had their bills paid by other sources or werent evacuees. The report recommends that Louisiana repay the CMS $19.8 million.
In a written response to the agency, Alan Levine, secretary of the Louisiana Health and Hospitals Department, countered that its application approved by the CMS made it clear the state believed all inpatient psychiatric services would be covered. This demonstration project was focused on delivering services to evacuees and affected citizens where Louisiana could find them as the storms spread them out all over the country, Levine wrote. The theme of this mission was to insure quick delivery of needed services. -- by Gregg Blesch