Saturday, May 16, 2015

N.C. Audit Uncovers Medicaid Abuse

As you can expect, a North Carolina state auditor found abuse, nepotism and possible fraud in the Department of Health and Human Services.  Medicaid, once again, is the program where suspect activity has taken place.  Carolina Journal reported the following:

The audit placed much of the blame for the mayhem in OMMISS on now-retired director Angeline Sligh, the subject of a 2013 audit detailing $237,500 in overpayments. 

According to the audit, Sligh chose temporary staffing agencies outside of normal channels, paying them $598,673 for commissions that exceeded the rates charged by the state-operated temporary staffing service. Employees collected $234,724 in unjustified overtime, and ineligible employees received $26,026 for holiday pay.

In all, 5,841 hours of overtime were recorded by temp workers “without documented justification,” the audit said. Undocumented overtime was a problem cited in past audits. 

Those employees “could not provide reasonable explanations” to justify the overtime, according to the audit. Some cited making copies or name tags, answering phones, and “lots and lots of typing” for their overtime. 

By going to an outside temp agency, Sligh was not constrained by state rules limiting temporary employees to 12 months of service. Some temp workers stayed with the agency for years.

The audit said Sligh’s “abuse of her authority through the hiring process caused these excessive costs.”

According to the audit, Sligh hired 15 people connected to her, including her daughter, ex-husband, and ex-husband’s wife. Six were members of her church, and one was a son of a fellow church member. Also hired under Sligh’s watch were a neighbor’s daughter, her hairdresser’s sister, and two ex-colleagues at St. Augustine’s University.

The audit said agency paid 12 temporary employees $807,741 “more than their qualifications justified,” according to the Office of State Human Resources. In numerous instances Sligh overruled the temp agency’s determination of appropriate pay scales and directed them to beef up the amounts.

As examples from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2014, the audit noted, one manager was paid $89.39 per hour, 78 percent more than appropriate, and $244,420 more than justified. A business analyst should have received $33.57 per hour but got $70, a 109 percent increase, resulting in $199,183 in excessive payments. A second business analyst should have been paid $23.31 per hour, received $36, and collected $60,404 more than justified. A health insurance claims consultant collected $74 hourly, or 73 percent above a justifiable level, for $103,484 more overall. 

The audit said Sligh improperly received 2,120 hours of compensatory time to which she was not entitled. The comp time allowed Sligh to save her sick time and vacation days, potentially inflating her retirement benefits that are calculated partially on those accumulated days. Wos denied the comp time bumped up Sligh’s retirement pay.

The audit admonished DHHS Chief Information Officer Joe Cooper, Sligh’s supervisor, who signed off on the comp time even though he was informed by department HR officials that Sligh was not entitled to the perk.

Meanwhile, democrats are throwing temper tantrums because republicans refused to expand this money pit agency without reforming it.  Go figure.


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