Butler County’s transportation company says it has resolved Medicaid payment issues

The state auditor highlighted the number of Medicaid providers it has flagged for erroneous payments this week, and the list included Butler County’s transportation provider.

But Universal Transportation Systems says it already repaid the $72,000.

State Auditor Dave Yost issued a report Tuesday that highlighted some of the Medicaid providers around the state that have allegedly ignored findings that they were overpaid for services. The auditor’s office over the past seven years has performed compliance checks on 133 providers and flagged $33.3 million — plus $2.4 million in interest — in improper payments.

“Make no mistake, transportation and home health providers deliver critical services that countless Ohioans rely on every single day,” Yost said. “But limited safeguards for these fields have given rise to widespread abuse and improper billing costing tens of millions of dollars.”

RELATED: Butler County’s transportation company will fight $72,000 penalty

The auditor’s office said 60 of those providers still owe $19.7 million. Fairfield-based UTS — which has a $9.2 million contract with Butler County Job and Family Services and a $650,000 vet board agreement — was designated as having received erroneous payments by the state auditor in 2015.

Auditors reviewed 1,275 paid transports UTS provided from Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2012 and identified 1,155 errors, which resulted in over-payments totaling $66,408. With $5,788 in interest, UTS owed the Ohio Department of Medicaid $72,197.

UTS President Carolyn Burer said although her initial instinct was to fight the penalty, the company ended up paying.

“We just went ahead and took care of it because the litigation is so expensive,” she said. “It’s been resolved.”

After Yost’s office announced the alleged errors two-and-a-half years ago Burer was prepared to appeal the auditor’s findings and disputed the amount. Burer received the full accounting of trips the state auditor examined, and that report only showed findings of fault totalling $13,410. The auditor is allowed apply a multiplier to the errors found in a sampling, but she said they counted trips twice, once for the flat rate and again for the mileage to arrive at the number of errors and the money owed.

“It makes this look like fraud and horrible things,” she said previously.

MORE: Butler County officials working with transportation provider to solve issues

The county’s contracted rides weren’t part of the audit — JFS didn’t use ambulette rides, and veterans rides are paid for by the vet board not Medicaid — but those agencies have found fault in the past with UTS.

When UTS started serving vet board clients in 2014 one former Marine had to wait six hours before a UTS driver finally collected him at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati. Another veteran missed a medical appointment he had waited months to get and said in a letter to the veterans board that it would be almost a year before he could get another appointment.

Executive Director Caroline Bier said the service UTS is providing veterans is better now. She said Geoff Kuzio bought the company from Burer — she is still president — and she has been working closely with him.

“We’re still working out some timeliness issues with pick-ups but I’m working with him directly on solutions to that,” she said. “Overall it’s better because they don’t have as many rides with us.”

Shannon Glendon, assistant JFS director, said they now meet quarterly with UTS, at the transportation company’s urging.

“The UTS contract is a large project with many moving parts and therefore we anticipate that problems will develop,” Glendon said. “Our expectation is that UTS resolves problems as they arise and they have worked with us to meet that expectation.”

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