Covering Louisiana

Mar 26, 2013 11:50 AM by AP

Audit of hospital finds $67K in questioned costs

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An audit finds the Interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans did not confirm patients were eligible for a federally-funded HIV program for low-income individuals and families.

While the hospital has since outsourced eligibility screenings to the Department of Health and Hospitals, no plan is yet in place to recover the nearly $67,000 in "questioned costs."

In a report released Monday, the Legislative Auditor's Office said a random audit of 43 HIV grant recipients' files showed not one contained adequate documentation proving they were eligible for the program. The audit added three individuals were given prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy even after their applications were denied.

The federally-funded HIV Care Grants Program is open to HIV-positive Louisianans who do not have third party medication coverage and can demonstrate their income is at or below 300% of the federal poverty level -- $34,470 for one person and $70,650 for a family of four. The total funding for the nationwide program in 2012 was $1.2 billion.

In a response sent Feb. 6, Chief Executive Officer Michael A. Kaiser said the hospital had taken several steps to correct the issues mentioned in the audit.

Kaiser added most of the problems cited in the audit were due to differences between the hospital's "free care program" and the state's eligibility requirements for the federal grants and were not due to "the quality of work by the (hospital staffer)."

The audit warned that noncompliance with the federal government's regulations of the program could mean the $67,000 in questioned costs would need to be returned.

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