By JONATHAN JENKINS QUEEN’S PARK BUREAU
Posted December 27, 2011
The wheels are back on the province’s assistive devices program, which auditor general Jim McCarter found was riddled with
waste and inefficiency two years ago.
“Significant progress has been made in addressing most of our recommendations,” McCarter wrote in his 2011 annual report,
which detailed some of the improvements bureaucrats had made to what was a troubled service.
Ontario’s health ministry offers a wide range of assistive devices to help people with chronic medical conditions —
everything from home oxygen kits and hearing aids to motorized scooters and wheelchairs.
Problems were rampant when McCarter audited the program in 2009.
He found vendors were routinely making two or three times the 33% markup on prices that the health ministry allowed — a
small number of health-care professionals were responsible for a massive number of hearing aid authorizations with few checks
on their validity — and no effort was being made to recycle expensive manual wheelchairs.
But a modernization plan put in place after McCarter’s report has made improvements.
By reviewing and updating prices for communication, mobility and visual aids, the ministry is now saving $2.3 million a year
— while still managing to add $1.1 million worth of new spending in the areas of orthotics and ocular prothestics.
On the error-prone home oxygen program, the ministry was able to recover more than $500,000 in payments made after the
patient needing the service had died.
A whopping $4.4 million in potentially fraudulent hearing aid claims had been identified.
The crackdown saw $234,000 of that money recovered and claims plummeted from 5,000 in 2008-09 to 1,000 in 2009-10.
Another $334,000 had been recovered from Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims after they were found to duplicate
health ministry claims.
Article ID# 3416919
Reproduced from http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3416919