Klamath County Mental Health fined $325,000 by DHS

From the Klamath Herald and News, October 20, 2012

Klamath County Mental Health will be fined $325,000 by the state office conducting an audit of the department’s billing practices, according to a draft settlement agreement and draft final order from the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The amount is a negotiated settlement that is lower than the $410,546 the department was to be fined, said Amanda Bunger, director of the mental health department. The lesser amount was allowed because the department has made changes since Bunger took over the office in March 2011.

The county is still working out precisely how it will pay the $325,000.

The draft outlines a payment plan starting with $25,000 due by Nov. 1. The plan then requires the county to pay $37,500 every quarter from January 2013 until October 2014.

Bunger said Friday the commissioners had questions about that plan. She also said the county is still determining where the funds will come from to make those payments.

The settlement is still in draft form and has not been signed by the commissioners.

The audit, done by DHS’s Office of Payment, Accuracy and Recovery, reviewed billing practices between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008. Bunger has said in previous interviews the audit discovered medical billing codes, missing patient assessments and outdated treatment plans. The issues have since been remedied, Bunger has said.

Many of the changes Bunger has made in the mental health department to fix errant practices were not instigated until her tenure began in 2011. To ensure no further audits would be applied to the time when the errant billing was still in practice, the draft settlement agreement postpones any future audits until a two years from now.

Specifically, it says there will not be another audit for 24 months after the first quarterly payment, which will be on Jan. 1, 2013.

Bunger said the draft settlement agreement will likely come before commissioners in the next two weeks.