Indian Health Services Faces Panel After Investigations of Fraud, Theft and Employee Misconduct

Indian Health Services, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services responsible for providing federal health services to American Indians and Alaska natives, faced a committee that focused on investigations alleging fraud, theft and employee misconduct at the IHS Aberdeen (S.D.) office, which includes medical facilities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, according to an Argus Leader news report.

Federal inspectors who investigated the Aberdeen office discovered the following:

•    Two employees were on the payroll despite a conviction for drug theft and another for embezzlement, which should have deemed them ineligible for IHS employment.
•    Insufficient monitoring of prescription drug storage, which led a pharmacy technician employed at Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City, S.D., to steal narcotics in 2008.
•    Employees used medical records to defraud the government in 2005.

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said during the committee hearing that numerous incidences of poor management were also evidenced based on reduced or completely eliminated inpatient services. In one example, he said although the Standing Rock Sioux reservation was seeing high rates of suicide, the mental health counseling position was left unfulfilled for months, according to the report.

Federal investigators have conducted approximately 300 investigations into IHS over the past 10 years for allegations related to fraud, theft and employee misconduct. Yvette Roubideaux, director of IHS, has acknowledged the issues and has said she is putting more effort toward increased employee and managerial accountability and better monitoring of equipment, according to the report.

Read the Argus Leader news report about the Indian Health Services hearing.

Read other coverage about healthcare fraud:

- OIG Finds CMS Does Not Report Disciplined Providers to National Database for Fraud

- ASCs, Physicians Considered "Limited" Fraud Risk to Government Insurance Programs, CMS Outlines Screening Procedures

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