New York City should give back $436 million it received in Medicaid payments for speech therapy for poor students because record-keeping was so chaotic there is no proof the students received any help, a federal audit says.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, studied a sample of 100 claims between 1993 and 2001. In many cases, there was no evidence that services had been provided, that they had been administered by a trained professional, or that the child had received at least two therapy sessions in a month.
Since 1988, Medicaid has provided funding to school districts for health-care services, including speech therapy, for poor children who receive help under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Based on the audit, New York City schools misspent about $870 million during the study period. The $436 million represents the federal portion of those charges.
The report notes that state and city officials dispute its methodology and conclusion. “We disagree with this audit and will work with the state to have the recommendations reversed or changed,” Margie Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the New York City department of education, told local reporters.