Oversight panel created for 2 California hospitals after $29M settlement

Ventura County, Calif., supervisors initiated an oversight body on Sept. 13 to ensure the county medical system complies with billing federal healthcare programs following a dispute that cost the county $29 million, according to a Sept. 14 report in the Ventura County Star.

The action follows the August disclosure that the county will pay to settle allegations of false claims for certain services billed to the Medi-Cal program for low-income patients. The claims involved services like case management rather than standard physician visits.

The formation of the Ventura County Health Care System Oversight Committee is part of an agreement the county entered with the HHS Office of Inspector General. 

According to the governing pacts, health providers will remain eligible for payment by Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs if they agree to oversight from the Office of the Inspector General. If the county system breaches the agreement, it could be barred from the programs that constitute most of its business.

County Health Care Agency Director Barry Zimmerman said 11 voting members will serve on the panel, including a member of the public, the county's auditor-controller, leaders of the medical staff, administrators and two members of the Board of Supervisors.

The new panel expects to meet in October, and meetings are open to the public.

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