decided: April 1, 1986.
MERCY CONVALESCENT HOME, INC., PETITIONER
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT
Appeal from the Order of the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the Department of Public Welfare in the case of Appeal of: Mercy Convalescent Home, Inc., File No. 23-81-283.
Suzanne Rauer, with her, Charles O. Barto, Jr., for petitioner.
Bruce G. Baron, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 218]
Mercy Convalescent Home, Inc. (Mercy), appeals a Department of Public Welfare (DPW) order denying it reimbursement for failing to timely file cost reports for fiscal years 1977 and 1978. We affirm.
Mercy, a skilled nursing home, receives reimbursement for patient services performed in the previous fiscal period under the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Program. Reimbursement is based on annual cost reports which are audited by DPW. Due to the chaotic state of Mercy's bookkeeping and accounting departments, it requested and was granted numerous time extensions for filing its 1977 and 1978 cost reports.*fn1 After Mercy filed the reports, DPW notified it, on April 1, 1980, that they were unauditable.*fn2 However, Mercy failed to resubmit the reports until April
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 21915]
, 1981 (Fiscal Year 1977) and April 20, 1981 (Fiscal Year 1978). DPW rejected the resubmitted reports as untimely filed in September 1981.*fn3
The hearing examiner found that the April 1, 1980 letter established a thirty-day extension for resubmitting the reports. The examiner concluded that DPW acted properly in rejecting the resubmitted reports because Mercy did not meet the extended deadline.
Our scope of review is limited to determining whether DPW's adjudication is in violation of constitutional rights, is not in accordance with law or is in violation of the agency's regulations or procedures, and whether substantial evidence supports the findings of fact. Montgomery County Geriatric and Rehabilitation Center v. Department of Public Welfare, 75 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 248, 462 A.2d 325 (1983).
Mercy contends that DPW's April 1, 1980 letter established an open time extension for resubmitting the reports since it did not contain a deadline date. While we agree that the letter did not expressly establish a thirty-day resubmittal deadline, we reject Mercy's contention that this letter granted it an open extension.
Where the hearing examiner's conclusion was correct, although based on an erroneous reason, it may be affirmed if the record clearly indicates a correct basis for his conclusion. Hankinson v. Department of Public Welfare, 56 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 307, 424 A.2d 625 (1981).
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 220]
Initially, we note that DPW's regulations give no guidance as to time extensions for reports which must be resubmitted.*fn4 However, we cannot interpret this void as granting to Mercy an infinite time period for resubmission.
We believe Mercy's failure to resubmit these unauditable cost reports until April 1981, a full year after they were rejected as unauditable, clearly constitutes an unreasonable delay. This position is supported by Mercy's own admission that the 1976/77 cost report was filed late.*fn5 An open extension would result in an administrative delay, placing an undue burden on DPW.*fn6
Mercy also contends that DPW violated its due process rights because the April 1, 1980 letter did not return the report or list its mistakes. We find no merit in this argument.
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 221]
The essence of due process is fundamental fairness in view of all facts and circumstances of a case. Burgess v. Roth, 387 F. Supp. 1155 (1975). Our review of the record reveals that Mercy's delay in resubmitting the reports was solely the result of its own inaction. DPW had granted Mercy numerous extensions for filing its original reports. Mercy never inquired about the discrepancies referred to in the April 1, 1980 letter, despite DPW's invitation of assistance. Moreover, when Mercy finally resubmitted its cost reports in 1981, it did so without DPW's aid, thereby indicating that Mercy was aware of its mistakes.
Accordingly, DPW's order is affirmed.
The order of the Department of Public Welfare, File No. 23-81-283 dated November 5, 1984, is affirmed.