State Auditor and Inspector's Office, not private firm, should audit EMSA, lawmakers say
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor
Thursday, April 26, 2012
4/26/12 at 5:29 PM
Three state lawmakers say the state Auditor and Inspector’s Office, not a private auditing firm, should audit EMSA to restore citizens’ confidence in the government agency.
Rep. Seneca Scott, D-Tulsa, said he and two other lawmakers will seek an audit of EMSA by state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones’ office. Scott said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, and Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, are joining him in the request.
Scott said an audit by the state “gives everybody a lot more confidence and that’s what’s needed.”
Scott said the lawmakers will encourage House Speaker Kris Steele to formally request the audit. The state auditor’s office can act on requests for audits from the House speaker and Senate pro tem, the district attorney covering the area in which the government agency resides or the agency’s board.
Scott’s statements follow an EMSA board meeting in Stroud Wednesday during which board members debated the need for an investigative audit. EMSA CEO Steve Williamson also suggested the audit could be done by McGladrey & Pullen, the private accounting firm that has a contract to perform EMSA’s routine audits.
“They are as independent as anybody. We didn’t choose them, the city of Tulsa did,” Williamson said.
Discussion about the audit follows a Tulsa City Council resolution urging EMSA’s board to seek an investigative audit. Councilors voted unanimously last week in favor of the resolution, which calls for an audit of spending on capital items and travel as well as billing and collections practices for EMSA’s TotalCare program.
City Councilor Blake Ewing, who sponsored the resolution, rejected a request from Williamson to remove the word “investigative” from the audit.
EMSA and other agencies receiving federal funds undergo routine audits each year that do not express an opinion, make policy recommendations or perform tests for waste, fraud and abuse.
Investigative audits by the state Auditor and Inspector’s Office review a wide variety of records and policies and include interviews with employees. Such audits frequently make policy recommendations, highlight areas of weakness, inefficiency and in some cases, possible criminal activity.
A Tulsa World investigation has found EMSA spent lavishly on capital items and travel. It has also sued at least 124 people who live at addresses listed in city records as being included in the monthly utility program known as TotalCare.
All patients, even those in the monthly utility program, receive a bill stating amount “due from patient.” The bills, which say “due upon receipt” contain no information about the utility program and do not inform customers if they are a member and what the benefits are.
EMSA approved changes to the TotalCare membership agreement Wednesday that would apply a 60-day limit to provide insurance information to citizens in the utility bill program. Williamson said following discussions with the city attorney’s office, he expected the city of Tulsa would change city ordinances to include the language.
Scott said he has had complaints from residents in his district about EMSA and the TotalCare program.
“I tuned in on this relative to constituents of mine. ... The concerns they have are very legit,” he said.
Scott said he met Thursday with State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, who said “when that request comes, they are ready to go.”
“What he understood is that the Tulsa mayor’s office is wanting a private audit. He said we can get probably a better insight.”
Mayor Dewey Bartlett on Wednesday told EMSA’s board that he supported a “thorough, deep and positive” audit. Bartlett said EMSA should seek out a private company “that has the ability to render independent good judgment” for its audit.
After the meeting, Bartlett said he had “no position” on whether the state Auditor and Inspector’s Office should conduct the audit.
Read the complete story in Friday’s Tulsa World.
Rep. Seneca Scott, D-Tulsa