JOHNSTOWN - An Albany accounting firm hired in spring 2011 by the Fulton County Board of Supervisors to root out bogus Department of Social Services Medicaid applications submitted by the self-employed saved the county about $540,000.
The Bonadio Group, an accounting firm, submitted results of its first year of work for the county to DSS. Sheryda Cooper, DSS commissioner, relayed those results Tuesday day to the board's Human Services Committee at the County Office Building.
"The program has been in place about a year now," Cooper said. "Bonadio has been a good contractor to work with."
Supervisors in April 2011 approved a $21,000 contract with the Bonadio Group to conduct forensic audit eligibility reviews of certain DSS Medicaid applications for the self-employed. The county receives state aid to cover some costs.
Cooper said Bonadio's eligibility review program started in May 2011 and 190 cases were referred. She said 167 cases are complete and 23 are in the process of being completed. She said 63 cases, or 38 percent of the completed cases, have resulted in taxpayer cost avoidance. She said cases that resulted in "cost avoidance" had 150-related applicants for medical assistance-family health plus that resulted in $540,000 in savings. The annual cost avoidance per applicant was $3,600.
She said financial resources were verified or immaterial financial adjustments made in 42 cases, or 25 percent of the completed cases. Cooper said an appointment was not warranted in 62 cases or 37 percent of the completed cases.
Cooper came to the committee to go over the Bonadio figures, but also to ask supervisors if they wanted to renew Bonadio's contract for another budget year. She said she needed "guidance" on a new contract, stating: "I'm not sure where you want to head with this, budgetwise."
The committee took no action on a new Bonadio contract.
The state has put a cap on certain administrative expenditures, Cooper said. There is certain uncertainty on aid until the state says it will eventually take over Medicaid.
"The state's not a big proponent of these programs," the DSS official said.
Broadalbin Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo, committee chairman, said the state is considering not taking over Medicaid administrative costs until 2020.
"It looks very speculative they can pull that off," DiGiacomo said.
On the other hand, he said of Bonadio's work: "It seems like a good program."
"These are the cases that probably would have been overlooked and fallen through the cracks," Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper said.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said Bonadio's work involving applications from business owners can be separated from "front end detection" work done by DSS's Fraud Unit to catch the county's other welfare cheats or bogus public assistance applications.