The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 2, 2012

Alabama looking to recover $5 million from audit

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's cash-strapped government could soon have nearly $5 million it wasn't expecting.

A state law enacted in 2011 lets the state government to pursue recovery audits for money overpaid or paid in error to companies that do work for the state. The first claim involving Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is nearly complete and it has turned up more than $4.8 million that should be repaid to the state, according to the law's sponsor and the state's chief examiner.

The law's sponsor, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, said it's just the start.

"We believe there are tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to be recovered by the state," Marsh, R-Anniston, said.

But Marsh is also upset that none of that money has started flowing in yet.

He got the Legislature to vote unanimously for the bill in 2011 to allow Alabama's chief examiner of public accounts, Ron Jones, to contract with recovery audit firms to get back money overpaid to individuals or companies during the prior three years. Recovery audit firms get a percentage of what they recover. They only get paid if they recover funds.

Jones hired Recovery Audit Specialists of Washington to look at payments by the state government's health insurance programs for state employees and education employees, and it will get 9 percent of what it recovers.

The recovery audit of payments by the State Employees Insurance Board to Blue Cross for covering state employees has moved the fastest and identified money due the state from pharmacy rebates and management fees, Marsh and Jones said in an interview.

Marsh said he's concerned that the State Employees Insurance Board hasn't demanded the money from Blue Cross, particularly with the cost of health care for state workers increasing. "If someone owed me $5 million, I would want my $5 million," he said.

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