Audit: Essentia overbilled Medicare

A federal audit found Duluth-based Essentia Health received more than $865,000 in Medicare overpayments.

The Medicare program provides health insurance for people aged 65 and over and those who are disabled or have permanent kidney disease. In reviewing $1.2 million of Medicare's payments to Essentia Health, the Office of Inspector General found Essentia overbilled Medicare by $865,000.

The findings indicate Essentia billed Medicare $3.18 for every dollar the hospital system was owed.

In a letter included with the federal report, Essentia attributes the overpayments to billing system and clerical errors.

"We found that there was an incorrect calculation by our computer system at the time," said Vicki Clevenger, Essentia's Chief Audit Officer. "We since then switched computer systems and we have validated that that change has corrected the error."

Essentia said it refunded the overpayments and has taken steps to prevent similar problems in the future.

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