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Local News in Brief : Query Into Billings at Hospital Ordered

Los Angeles County supervisors Tuesday called for an investigation into allegations that billing foul-ups at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center have cost the county millions of dollars and ordered a contract review of a large private health-care company overseeing the billing program.

The board directed Chief Administrative Officer Richard B. Dixon and Health Services Director Robert Gates to investigate allegations of financial mismanagement at the 408-bed hospital in Watts and to review the county’s contract with National Medical Enterprises Inc.

The Times reported last week that the county had lost substantial health-care revenues at King and that county auditors and a private health-care consultant blamed poor fiscal controls and lax computer security at the hospital for the losses. The county recently renewed its $462,750 annual contract with National Medical to head up the hospital’s billing operation.

The board also ordered a review of the billing practices of all other county hospitals in an effort to ensure that the county is receiving full reimbursement for its Medi-Cal patients.

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