- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

The D.C. government has established a new system to broker transportation for Medicaid recipients after having assigned the job to a health care company for nearly two years without a valid written contract.

The company — Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS), which also processes speed and red-light tickets for the District under different contracts — ran a transportation call center that arranged for private companies to take Medicaid recipients to and from non-emergency appointments.

Under a new policy, the city’s Medicaid agency now arranges the rides “in house” rather than relying on a contractor, according to Robert Maruca, director of the D.C. Medical Assistance Administration in the city’s Department of Health.

Between 2002 and last year, the District used ACS as its Medicaid transportation broker.

Though the District had contracted with ACS to process its Medicaid claims, the company did not have a valid written contract to run a transportation call center, city records show.

“The contractor prior to ACS was providing transportation call services, and the function should have been included in the ACS [Medicaid] contract, but for some reason were not,” Mr. Maruca said.

When officials learned of the problem, Mr. Maruca said, city officials told ACS to “stop providing the services, since no contract was in effect.”

In July, the D.C. Council approved a payment of $936,000 to ACS for running the transportation call center “without the benefit of a valid contract,” according to the legislation, which members approved 13-0.

“Since ACS was allowed to perform the functions for a period of time, they were entitled to be paid for their work,” Mr. Maruca said. “The council resolution affirmed that the work took place, and ACS has been reimbursed.”

Under the new system, he said, the District is creating its own brokering system designed to control expenses, provide better service, and prevent fraud and abuse.

Mr. Maruca said plans also call for expanding the non-emergency transportation program to include reimbursement for public transportation.

“New services will include the use of Metrorail passes, bus tokens and taxi,” he said.

The changes are occurring while federal authorities are investigating the billing practices of one of the city’s largest non-emergency transportation providers — the District-based Voice of Social Concern Association Inc.

Authorities have seized more than $1 million in accounts held by the company and its president, Akube W. Ndoromo, records filed in U.S. District Court show.

The FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Postal Services are investigating whether Voice of Social Concern was paid based on submitting fraudulent Medicaid claims, including those belonging to dead beneficiaries, court records show.

Mr. Ndoromo has not been charged, and he has denied any wrongdoing.

ACS, which processed claims submitted by Voice of Social Concern, is “aware of and is supporting” the investigation, company spokesman Joseph M. Barrett said last week.

Mr. Barrett said an internal ACS review showed the claims “in question were processed properly.”

“Because the federal investigation continues, ACS cannot provide further comment,” he said.

The District’s Medicaid program, funded by federal and D.C. tax dollars, costs about $1.3 billion per year, covering 140,702 residents this year.

The non-emergency transportation program cost about $12.7 million in 2003 and $14.3 million last year, city records show.

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