State says Sullivan missed out on more than $200K
Story by Dan Hust
LIBERTY December 27, 2013 The NYS Comptroller’s Office told seven counties this month including Sullivan that they can do a better job maximizing state and federal reimbursements for social services programs.
The auditors reviewed records for all of 2011 and 2012, determining that the seven counties failed to seek reimbursement for over $1.4 million in eligible costs.
“This revenue was lost because the counties did not have formally established and consistent billing processes which resulted in billing errors (underbillings and overbillings), or a failure to bill at all,” the auditors wrote in a report released this month.
Sullivan County was found to have underbilled close to $289,000 within the two years reviewed. The report did not detail specifics, other than a situation where the Dept. of Family Services (DFS) and the Office for the Aging missed out on reimbursements for approximately $15,000 of actual costs.
Most of the problems in Sullivan and the six other counties were linked by the auditors to the complex reimbursement process, which requires staff members to pay close attention to what can and cannot be reimbursed by the state and feds. If particular procedures are not followed, the counties can miss out on monies otherwise due them.
For example, every county’s District Attorney’s Office renders prosecution services for social services fraud cases, but only one county in the audit (Greene) was following the appropriate procedure to get 50 percent federal reimbursement by having the DA’s Office “bill” the social services department for that assistance.
Auditors recommended leaders do a more thorough job of monitoring submitted claims, standardize the billing process to maximize reimbursement, and maintain better records on DA Office’s staff time spent on social services cases.
Health and Family Services Commissioner Randy Parker said that’s already in motion.
“These were things we were working on and talking about,” he affirmed, noting billing arrangements are now in place with the Sheriff’s Office and Probation Dept., among others. “We’re looking at maximizing all sources of revenue and not relying solely on property taxes.”
“Sullivan County is in the process of developing and adopting a memorandum of agreement between the Sullivan County Dept. of Social Services and other Sullivan County agencies for reimbursable social services program administration costs,” Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson wrote in a response to the state.
“The agreement will provide a consistent framework for departments to directly bill Family Services for services provided.”