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STATE CREDITS HOSPITAL WITH BETTER BILLING

Roswell Park Cancer Institute has improved billing practices to increase revenues since a 1996 audit by the state comptroller, a follow-up report released Tuesday shows.

"Clearly, they (Roswell Park) have made progress, particularly regarding collection of payments from out-of-state patients," State Comptroller H. Carl McCall said.

In 1996, McCall's office argued that patient revenue could be increased and annual state subsidies decreased if changes were made in Roswell Park's billing practices, and it issued seven recommendations.

During the 1997 fiscal year, Roswell Park received $83.9 million in patient revenue and $54.6 million in contributions from the state, according to the comptroller's office. For the three years ending March 31, 1997, the amount of money owed by patients for billed services decreased from $16.8 million to $15.4 million.

The follow-up report found that Roswell Park had made improvements in verifying patients' insurance coverage before admission and collecting prepayments from uninsured patients. But the comptroller's office said that several of its recommendations were only partially implemented and that one was not put in place.

For instance, the auditors said Roswell Park should do a better job of identifying coding errors during the initial entry of patient data at the cancer center.

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