High Overtime, Evasion Raise New Questions About Medicaid Fraud and Waste

Related Links: GoLocalProv, New Allegations Surface in RI Medicaid Fraud

In the wake of an investigative article published this morning in The Ocean State Current about suspiciously high overtime payments to government employed nurses and psychiatrists, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity plans to publish additional related information in the coming week.

Considering that public dollars are being paid to government workers who, for years, have collected six-figures in overtime from a facility that was cited in a recent Medicaid fraud and waste report, “one really has to wonder if the State of Rhode Island is defrauding itself: at taxpayer expense”, commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center.

The recent Block Report cited the Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston, a state-run facility that charges abnormally high fees, as a potential source for abusive Medicaid spending. In her article, Suzanne Bates, a freelance journalist, details how nine employees at that same facility received over $100,000 in overtime compensation alone, pushing gross annual pay for some to over a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

The article also describes the difficulties Bates and the Center faced in getting an explanation and in obtaining the data. The investigative article raises questions that go to the heart of our state government’s inability to manage its budgets in a way that serves all Rhode Islanders:

  • Why would the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital, in Cranston, be so short-staffed that it must pay over one million dollars in overtime to just 9 employees year after year?
  • Is our state truly being served well if union contracts make it more cost-effective for the Dept. of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) to pay exorbitant overtime to some, rather than to hire more people during these hard economic times?
  • If taxpayers are ultimately paying almost the entire bill for this expensive workforce through both state and federal Medicaid dollars, where is the oversight to keep these costs under control?

Later this week, the Center plans to publish a broader list of overtime payments made to other state employees. Next week, the Center plans to launch a new module – that lists regular and overtime compensation for all state employees – to its popular transparency website, www.RIOpenGov.org .

The Ocean State Current is the journalism wing of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. The data for The Current’s article was collected by the Center.

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