Thursday, September 27, 2012

People v. Johnson (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 27, 2012)

Wonder why California's budget is in it's current state?  Here's a partial clue, from this morning's opinion by the Court of Appeal:

"An 'overpayment' occurs when a provider receives more benefits then what it was entitled to receive. If a group home provider has extra funds that are not spent on 24-hour care for the children in its care, the provider must put the funds back into the program. DSS has a recovery department whose employees collect overpayments in connection with public assistance programs, including foster care group homes. . . .

[Footnote]  Michelle Franklin, the supervisor for DSS's Investigation and Recovery Unit, testified to the grand jury that starting in 2006, her department had two recovery technicians designated for foster care because overpayments in that area were 'out of control.' Prior to that time, group home overpayments, even from the same home, could be handled by multiple recovery technicians. Franklin explained that for the most part, overpayments occurred because children left the home and the provider did not notify the eligibility worker of that occurrence.

A group home is selected for a fiscal audit based on a review of its financial audit report and assignment of a risk rating based on matters such as negative cash balances, overpayments, and debt. Providers with a risk rating of 7 or above (out of 10) would be referred for audit. T-Town fell within a high risk rating: in the 7 to 10 range, but it was not audited for some years due to budget constraints.

[Footnote]  Cora Dixon, the bureau chief of the Audits Bureau within the Foster Care Audits and Rates Branch, testified that as of May 2010, the audit office had no staff. However, the branch performed about 22 fiscal audits per year (at the time referred to as investigation audits) from 1999 through 2003. At the end of 2003, the audit unit was eliminated due to budget constraints, but was reestablished in fiscal years 2006 to 2009. The unit was eliminated again at the end of June 2009.

As of 2006, when DSS began running audits again, T-Town owed overpayments of $213,232 going back as far as 1999."

Wonderful way to control costs.  Eliminate the audit department.  Makes sense.