- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2006

The District’s Medicaid office yesterday said it is reviewing new financial information submitted by Howard University Hospital to correct a misstatement of nearly $150 million in losses that the hospital reported in a 2004 regulatory filing.

Howard discovered the mistake last month after questions from The Washington Times about its 2004 Medicaid cost report, a portion of which showed the hospital reported a net loss of $149.3 million.

Howard financial administrators said the error was caused by a computer glitch that omitted a revenue line item of about $169 million.

Hospital officials said the mistake was included in a supplemental filing that did not affect their Medicaid reimbursement.

Robert Maruca, director of the D.C. Medical Assistance Administration, which oversees Medicaid in the District, said yesterday that the error had no bearing on the hospital’s Medicaid reimbursement.

“As far as we are concerned, there is no impact on the Medicaid program regarding this issue,” he said in an e-mail. “[Their] rates have been previously established, and current filings do not have any impact on their rates.”

D.C. Medicaid officials also confirmed that they have received updated financial information from Howard, in which the hospital reports earning a profit of about $1.2 million in 2004.

The figure is identical to updated financial information that Howard provided The Times last week.

Under D.C. Medicaid rules, hospitals must file annual cost reports to the city’s Department of Health including details on expenses and revenues.

Howard officials have said their 2005 cost report is accurate. Filed in November, it shows losses of more than $17 million caused largely by increased operating expenses and debt.

The Times first reported the deficit last week, based on a review of hundreds of pages of records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said last week that the deficit won’t hurt the city’s deal with Howard to build a new hospital in Southeast.

Howard and D.C. officials today are expected to release details about an exclusive rights agreement to split the costs of building a $400 million hospital.

Citing financial pressures, the hospital recently laid off about 125 employees. Howard officials said the move should help the hospital return to profitability.

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