Based on that sample, OIG estimated that from March 2007, through January 2009 the Bureau of Primary Care & Rural Health paid at least $13.6 million of federal grant funds to an estimated 509 practitioners who were not in compliance with the grant requirements.
"These errors occurred because the bureau did not follow its existing policies and procedures or did not have adequate policies and procedures to ensure that its contracts with practitioners obligated them to meet the 3-year service requirements, that practitioners were monitored for compliance with the Federal grant requirements, and that corrective action was taken for practitioners not in compliance," OIG said in the audit.
OIG recommended that Louisiana refund to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services the more than $13.6 million paid for noncompliant grants, implement adequate safeguards to prevent a further occurrence, and take corrective action against physicians who were noncompliant after the audit period.
In a written response to the OIG findings, Gerrelda Davis, director of the Bureau of Primary Care & Rural Health, attributed much of the problem to "human error" a small staff, and the sheer workload in the months after the hurricane. "Due to the large amount of contracts being completed during that time frame, Bureau staff responsible for completing contracts was as diligent as possible with the limited number of staff assigned to process contracts," Davis said.