Senators want answers about QIO outlays

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Senate Finance Committee leaders are continuing their probe into the finances of quality improvement organizations. Specifically, they have asked the American Health Quality Association to disclose if it spent Medicare funds on entertainment at conferences in recent years.

The letter to the QIO trade group is the latest salvo from Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) and ranking minority member Max Baucus (D-MT). The senators, who have been investigating impropriety at QIOs since last year, want answers to their questions by June 16. The government hires these organizations to monitor the quality of healthcare provided to Medicare beneficiaries, including nursing home residents.

The lawmakers requested information on QIO governance and executive compensation, as well as details on entertainment-related expenditures from 2002 to 2005. For example, AHQA paid nearly $14,000 for a conference in June 2005. More than half of this amount was for luncheons and banquets, the letter alleged.