CMS Investigates Irregularities in Obtaining Federal Matching Funds for New Mexico Hospitals

A draft audit issued by CMS has identified irregularities in how local New Mexico governments and eight hospitals in the state generated money used to obtain federal matching funds as part of CMS' Sole Community Provider fund program during 2009, according to a Sante Fe New Mexican report.

CMS has determined that $21.7 in payments by local governments did not comply with its rules for the Sole Community Provider fund program. Through this program, federal government matches 3-to-1 the money local governments provide for indigent health care in their communities, according to the report.

Specifically, CMS is examining whether the hospitals and governments entered into agreements whereby the governments pledged funds in return for services from the hospitals. CMS prohibits these arrangements.

Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe is one of the hospitals being investigated. In 2009, Sante Fe County provided $9.5 million for indigent care, drawing approximately $27 million in federal matching funds. In return, the hospital agreed to operate and fund medical care at the county jail and other county programs. If found in violation, the hospital and state could be asked to repay millions in federal matching funds, according to the report.

The hospital contends its agreement is not a quid pro quo arrangement because it was secured through a memorandum of understanding, not a binding contract.

Read the Santa Fe New Mexican report on Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.

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