Youngstown charter school responds to audit finding - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Youngstown charter school responds to audit finding

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

A Youngstown charter school that was cited in an audit conducted by Auditor of State Dave Yost responded to the report on Friday.

  • The audit that was released on Thursday found that Summit Academy-Youngstown owes Medicaid more than $15,000 for billing for services that Yost said may have not even been rendered.

The report says the school billed for services for students who were absent or not even enrolled on the dates of service.

The audit determined that Summit Academy-Youngstown was overpaid by Ohio Medicaid for services rendered between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013 in the amount of $14,663.59.

With interest in the amount of $1,011.89, Summit Academy-Youngstown owes the Ohio Department of Medicaid $15,675.48.

Summit Academy Management responded to the findings of the charges on behalf of Summit Academy-Youngstown.

Interim CEO of Summit Academy Management John Guyer said the errors found in the audit resulted from clerical or coding mistakes, as well as unclear training on billing procedures. He also explained corrective actions the school has since taken so these errors are not repeated.

One of the errors outlined in the audit was billing for students who were absent on the days services were rendered. Auditors reviewed attendance records and determined that recipients listed for 14 billed services were absent or not enrolled on the dates of service. In 13 of those instances, the provider had service documentation that included a start time, end time and a detailed note.

Summit Academy Management said this happened due to billing groups of students at a time. The response said that oftentimes students are seen in small groups, and even if a therapist indicates in the notes that a student was absent, the entire group was being billed., which makes it look like the therapist billed for services when a student was absent.

Management said to correct this issue their therapists have received training from a billing agent and management company on how to properly bill, including which billing codes are appropriate for each discipline.

The response also said billing is now reviewed monthly for accuracy and that attendance cross-checks against billing are set to occur.

The audit also examined Individualized Education Programs, which are required for recipients of special education services, and found the following errors:

  • twenty-two services in which the provider billed for more units than were authorized in the Individualized Education Programs;
  • two services that were not authorized in an Individualized Education Program; and
  • three services with no Individualized Education Programs to cover the dates of service.

Summit Academy Management said these errors were due to the volume of new students and testing that occurs at the start of the school year, causing practitioners to get behind in the provision of services. They said that when this occurs the practitioners will make up the minutes owed throughout the school year to ensure that all minutes are served. This makes it seem like the provider is billing for more units than were authorized on the Individualized Education Programs.

Management gave an example in their response.

“For instance, if the IEP states that a student is to be seen 60 minutes per month and the therapist is behind by 120 minutes, the therapist may see the student and in turn bill for 90 minutes in a month for several months to make up the minutes owed,” the response stated.

Summit Academy said they work with practitioners to ensure they are on track with their minutes. They also said practitioners are provided updated caseloads regularly to ensure no one is still being seen who may have been discharged from services.

In addition, the audit states the school did not submit proof that a speech-language pathologist, who had a conditional license, practiced under the supervision of a fully-licensed speech-language pathologist. Auditors concluded that 43 services rendered by the pathologist with a conditional license were noncompliant.

Summit Academy said they did provide supervision logs for all occupational therapy assistants.

“While the speech-language pathologist with a conditional license did not provide her log for the files at Summit Academy-Youngstown, supervision did occur. The Ohio Board of Speech – Language Pathology and Audiology requires documentation of supervision to be submitted in order for therapists to obtain a full license,” the response said. “This was submitted to the Board by this particular therapist who is now fully licensed.”

Summit Academy Management said they now require supervision logs to be submitted, reviewed and filed monthly for all occupational therapy assistants and speech-language pathologists with a conditional license.

Auditors also determined that one of the provider's practitioners failed to complete a background check and three practitioners rendered services before completing their background checks. As a result, auditors concluded that 38 services rendered by the practitioners were noncompliant.

Summit Academy said they ensures practitioners are appropriately licensed and that they require a background check and drug screening prior to the provision of services.

They said that at times the vendor used to provide services subcontracted with another agency to obtain a practitioner to provide services. Management said the background checks were not forwarded to them.

Management said practices are currently in place to ensure these items are collected prior to services being rendered.

Summit Academy Management said they have changed therapy providers for the latter part of the 2015-2016 school year. While there may be audit findings up until this point, Summit Academy Management says they put practices and procedures into place to address these concerns.

Upon receipt of the final audit report, Summit Academy Management said they are fully committed to refund this overpayment to the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

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