Indian Health Service: Updated Policies and Procedures and Increased Oversight Needed for Billings and Collections from Private Insurers

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides health care services to American Indians and Alaskan Natives. For fiscal year 2009, Congress appropriated approximately $3.6 billion for health care services to be made available through IHS. The agency provides direct medical care, including primary care services, ancillary services, and some specialty services, through its network of facilities, including hospitals, health centers, and clinics. IHS also provides funding to direct care facilities that are operated by tribes. IHS headquarters oversees ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. October 22, 2009.

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Description

Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides health care services to American Indians and Alaskan Natives. For fiscal year 2009, Congress appropriated approximately $3.6 billion for health care services to be made available through IHS. The agency provides direct medical care, including primary care services, ancillary services, and some specialty services, through its network of facilities, including hospitals, health centers, and clinics. IHS also provides funding to direct care facilities that are operated by tribes. IHS headquarters oversees 12 area offices that cover 161 service units in 35 states. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act of 1976, as amended, authorizes IHS to collect reimbursement for services provided at IHS facilities from third-party insurers, including Medicare, the federal health insurance program for elderly and disabled individuals; Medicaid, a joint federal and state health financing program for certain low-income families and individuals; and private health insurers. IHS is allowed to retain funds collected from these insurers without a corresponding offset against its appropriations, so that all revenue collected by a facility remains with that facility, supplementing its appropriations. For fiscal year 2008, IHS reported that it collected about $795 million from all third-party insurers, of which about $94 million, or 12 percent, was collected from private insurers. The remaining 88 percent was collected from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. According to IHS, these funds were used to purchase new medical equipment and medical supplies, and to provide compensation and benefits for IHS employees. Given the importance of these collections to IHS's mission, Congress asked us to examine several areas related to IHS's billings and collections activities. Specifically, Congress asked us to review IHS's policies and procedures for writing off amounts owed to the agency by private insurers, internal control procedures related to billing and collection, and the amounts and reasons for denied claims and claims written off as uncollectible by IHS. Because IHS was unable to provide much of the information we requested on the amounts of denied and adjusted claims and amounts written off for more than 6 months after our requests for these data, this report examines (1) the design of IHS's policies and procedures for billing and collecting revenue from private insurers including write-offs of uncollectible claims, and (2) the adequacy of IHS headquarters' monitoring of area office and service unit compliance with policies and procedures for the billing and collection of revenue from private insurers."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • October 22, 2009

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Indian Health Service: Updated Policies and Procedures and Increased Oversight Needed for Billings and Collections from Private Insurers, text, October 22, 2009; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc300266/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.