Green Requests Investigation into CHIP Overpayments
July 19, 2004
Washington, DC - In a letter sent today, U.S. Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston) urged U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson to investigate a recent Texas State Comptroller finding that $20 million in state overpayments were delivered to a New York contractor for services rendered in the administration of the states Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The most recent Census figures show that 15.9 percent of low-income Texas children living at or below 200 percent of the poverty level currently do not have health insurance the highest rate in the nation. Thus, it is clear that any misappropriation of state CHIP funding threatens the ability of low-income Texas children to receive proper health care, Green wrote.
The audit, conducted by the office of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, found that the Texas Commission on Health and Human Services overpayed the Clarendon Insurance Group of New York by $20 million. The Texas agency had contracted with the Clarendon Group to administer CHIP services in rural Texas counties. According to Strayhorns office, the $20 million could have kept 17,000 Texas children on the states CHIP rolls.
These findings are particularly disturbing in light of recent state budget cuts that have caused more than 170,000 Texas children to be dropped from the CHIP rolls in the past year, Green wrote. As the federal agency with oversight of state Medicaid programs, HHS has a responsibility to ensure that states manage their CHIP programs in a cost-effective manner that maximizes participation and coverage. For this reason, I encourage the Department to initiate an investigation into overpayments issued by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
A senior member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Green has worked to increase access to health care for the residents of Texas, which currently has the highest rate of uninsured individuals in the country. As such, Green has been a champion for the CHIP program and has worked to increase funding for community-based preventive health care programs, such as the Community Access Program and Community Health Centers.