Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of: Jeffrey Bittner, D.O., File No. 9-82-3.
Jonathan Wheeler, Gallagher, Wheeler, Reilly and LaChat, for petitioner.
Bruce G. Baron, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 236]
The petitioner, Jeffrey Bittner, D.O., appeals here an order of the Department of Public Welfare (Department) which held that his answer to an Order to Show Cause was not filed timely, that his participation in the Medical Assistance Program was terminated
[ 81 Pa. Commw. Page 237]
and that he should reimburse the Department in the amount of $252,368.41. He is a physician who provided medical services for the Department's Medical Assistance Program. The Department, furthermore, contends that this appeal should be quashed.*fn1
On March 3, 1982, the petitioner received an Order to Show Cause from the Department requiring him to respond with an answer indicating why his participation in the Program should not be terminated and the aforementioned sum assessed against him. On May 10, 1982, the Department ruled that his answer, which the Department claimed to have received on March 19, 1982, was filed untimely. He was ordered to pay the sum noted, and the instant appeal ensued.
The question presented for our review*fn2 is whether or not the petitioner's answer was filed timely pursuant to 1 Pa. Code § 31.11, which provides as follows:
Pleadings, submittals, or other documents required or permitted to be filed under this part, the regulations of the agency or any other provision of law must be received for filing at the office of the agency within the time limits, if any, for such filing. The date of receipt at the office of the agency and not the date of deposit in the mails is determinative. (Emphasis added.)
Although the Department contends that it was not in receipt of the answer to the Order to Show Cause until March 19, 1982, ...