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OU, Veterans Affairs billing questions

Invoicing problems between the University of Oklahoma and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are hard to understand. A recent V.A.’s review estimated the university was overpaid $106,000 of $6.9 million for services rendered in 2015-16. Officials are examining claims to see how much was overpaid.

Some of the medical students served as residents and were splitting their duties with other Oklahoma City medical facilities, and the V.A. contends it paid for time that should have been charged to the other facilities.

The V.A. claims that previous leadership was partly to blame because it didn’t implement required audits that it should have.

With all the computer power and other systems at the disposal of both agencies to track hours worked, it is just hard to understand the mix up. Is it also a problem in other states? If no, then what was being done differently in those states?

The V.A.’s acting chief of education said that if his agency can determine that the residents were in the building when the time was billed, then charges were justifiable. Wouldn’t a time clock and time card for each medical student submitted every two weeks — just as is done be private sector payroll departments — have answered most disputed questions?

It would appear the V.A. could have done more to insure it had a better handle on its liabilities. Now, another computer system is going to be installed to track hours. What to make things more difficult? Get a computer.

Just maybe there was no mistake along the way. Whatever is determined, O.U. needs to play some defense. It needs to develop its own system, its own more detailed data to protect its medical program from future questions. Don’t overlook time clocks.

The Lawton Constitution

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