North Carolina paid Medicaid providers about $440,000 more than it should have last year. That's according to a report Friday from the state auditor's office, which found several problems in its annual review of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
About a third of the overpayment consisted of state money, as the federal government covers about two-thirds of Medicaid costs in North Carolina. Dave Richard is deputy secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, and he offered this perspective on the overpayment:
"In a $13 billion dollar program, $400,000 is not a significant amount of money compared to the rest of the program," he said. "Anything that we pay that isn't appropriate we want to make sure that we fix, so we take it very seriously. The department takes every recommendation very seriously, and we'll get them right."
The state auditor reviewed a small sample of Medicaid claims and found that about a fourth of them were paid in error or weren't sufficiently documented. Richard says he does not think that indicates there's a larger problem, and he says the state is reviewing the cases. The state will try to get its money back on overpayments, and it'll also reach out to providers to make sure they're documenting claims properly.
The audit also found problems with the state's food stamp approval system, vocational rehabilitation payments and other areas of the health department. The state says it either has corrected or has plans to correct the problems.