RVHS subject of federal audit

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 19, 2001

The county’s requested federal audit of River Valley Health System has already begun, U.

Monday, February 19, 2001

The county’s requested federal audit of River Valley Health System has already begun, U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine’s and George Voinovich’s offices said.

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In a Feb. 9 letter to Sen. Mike DeWine, county commissioners informed the senator of the county’s Feb. 1 request for a federal audit, as well as the hospital’s closure on Jan. 31.

"There are several questions concerning the financial and legal aspects of the failure of this facility, which the commissioners feel need to be addressed," commissioners said in the letter. "There are suspicions of welfare and Medicare fraud. The fact the hospital is apparently $17 to $18 million in debt leads to questions of gross mismanagement of hospital funds."

Although a state-supported audit is under way, commissioners have said they wanted an independent audit from federal sources.

In a response to the commissioners, written jointly by Sens. DeWine and Voinovich, the senators agreed to help start the process.

"Please be assured that we will contact the proper officials in an effort to be of assistance to you," they wrote.

The senators sent the information to the federal Health Care Financing Administration, requesting its review and a report back.

"They have responded that they are looking into the matter," said Lynn Crowe of DeWine’s office.

Details about how the audit is being conducted, and how long it will take, were not available before presstime.

County commission president Paul Herrell said he expects a thorough review, which is what the commissioners want in order to answer questions that still linger about the hospital.

Although it targets federal funds, such as Medicare, Medicaid and welfare dollars, there are more hospital funds the audit will examine, Herrell said.

"It takes time, but the main thing is getting this audit and maintaining the hospital’s facilities," he said.

HCFA, the Health Care Financing Administration, administers the Medicare, Medicaid, and Child Health Insurance Programs, which helps pay the medical bills for more than 75 million beneficiaries.

HCFA also establishes policies for paying health care providers, performs quality assurance on its programs, and assesses the quality of health care facilities and services and taking enforcement actions as appropriate.

On the Internet, HCFA can be found at www.hcfa.gov