The county has written off Medicare overpayments to providers in the past, but this one that will be heard at the March 10, 2020 Board of Supervisors meeting is the largest that I know of. I sent the following letter to the board in hopes that they can do something to see that the nearly $2 million can be collected. For a county that keeps crying poor, this is sheer dereliction of duty.

Dear Honorable Supervisors:

The write-off by the county of nearly $2 million of a Medicaid overpayment by the State of California, Health and Human Services Agency, Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is much too important an issue to be buried in the Consent Agenda, supported by minimal documentation, and approved without any discussion whatsoever. The supporting documentation is over four years old and the reason for the write-off goes back to 2007 or before, yet nothing regarding this issue has ever been disclosed to the public until now. It appears that transparency, competency, and integrity are being totally ignored (and have been totally ignored) in this situation.

The Consent Agenda item states that County Administrative Officer Terry Barber is requesting the board approve the write-off of nearly $2 million owed to the county by Medicaid Special Services provider HealTherapy, Inc. (a horse therapy program provider).

The request only includes a copy of a Proposed Decision dated October 27, 2015 by an Administrative Law Judge at DHCS regarding an appeal by HealTherapy, Inc. The Proposed Decision was accepted as a Final Decision on November 3, 2015. I will assume that the board has read and understands the document.

It is only now, when County Administrator Terry Barber has tendered resignation from the county, that this has been brought to the board to be resolved. While Ms. Barber may not have been involved from the beginning, she was County Director of Health and Human Services during much of the time the Appeal Decisions were being made. In 2015 she attended a meeting where HealTherapy, Inc. was awarded a contract with the Probation Department (Board Minutes dated July 14, 2015). Yet she didn’t disclose a word regarding the situation with HealTherapy, Inc. and the concomitant potential loss to the county of nearly $2 million.

Perhaps she felt she didn’t need to make any such disclosure because she had already been appointed County Administrator and would take over that position on July 20, 2015. (Board Minutes dated June 16, 2015).

County Administrator Barber attended the July 11, 2017 Board meeting when a contract with HealTherapy, Inc. with the Community Corrections Partnership was approved (Board Minutes dated July 11, 2017). Again Ms. Barber was mute on disclosure of the $1,903,731 that she now requests be written off.

The DHCS Final Appeal Decision states that it is too late to for DHCS to attempt collection of the $1,903,731 from HealTherapy, Inc., but that is made moot by the fact that “DHCS and Siskiyou County agreed to incorporate the overpayment amount into an existing repayment agreement dated June 29, 2012.” A copy of this agreement should have been attached to the agenda. The public deserves to know who approved the agreement and who was authorized to sign it. The public also deserves to know if the amount has been paid or if it still outstanding, and from where the funds for payment came or will come.

There needs to be discussion regarding what efforts, if any, were made to collect the $1,903,731 from HealTherapy, Inc. There also needs to be discussion and disclosure regarding the potential for other overpayments such as this cropping up once Ms. Barber has sailed off into the sunset on a cruise ship.

Oh, I forgot, the county’s favorite excuse for all things is “I don’t know about that because I wasn’t here at the time.” That’s just another rendition of “ignore, allow, approve.” Nearly $2 million of the people’s money is too important for the county to play either one those tired old games. Those funds could have been used to support the library or other projects that support all the people of Siskiyou County, not just one money-sucking corporation that reaped nearly $2 million from the county by overbilling and then was not held accountable.

Until the full facts regarding this issue, including disclosure of any other or potential other such overpayments, I heartily suggest that any and all contracts with HealTherapy, Inc. be cancelled, and no new contracts with them be approved. This policy should apply not only to HealTherapy, Inc., but to any Medicaid provider. On behalf of every county resident, I request for the write-off be denied and strenuous and successful collection attempts be made.