Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare, in the case of Appeal of: Friends Hospital, Docket Nos. 27-87-037 (Audit FYE 6/30/82), 27-87-038 (Audit FYE 6/30/83), and 27-87-039 (Audit FYE 6/30/84), dated March 31, 1988.
Earl M. Forte, with him, James J. Jandrisitz, Ehmann & Van Denbergh, P.C., for petitioner.
Catherine Stewart, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.
Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
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Friends Hospital appeals an order of the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) granting DPW's motion to dismiss the hospital's request to file its audit appeal nunc pro tunc. We affirm.
There is no dispute as to the facts. By letter dated May 22, 1987, W. Gerard Best, Director of the Bureau of State-Aided Audits, forwarded to Robert J. Berenato, Director of Financial Services at Friends Hospital, copies of Amended Reports of Medical Assistance audits of Friends Hospital for the fiscal years of June 30, 1982, through June 30, 1984. Mr. Berenato forwarded the letter to William Stowers, then Budget Manager of Friends Hospital. The amended reports contained audit disallowances for the fiscal years in question and advised that the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals must receive any appeal of the disallowances within thirty days. The letter concluded by providing a
[ 122 Pa. Commw. Page 152]
phone numer to call should the hospital have any questions.
By letter dated June 3, 1987, Thomas Tay, DPW Assistant Comptroller for Auditing, forwarded to the attention of the Controller of Friends Hospital notice of the amounts due based on the Comptroller's review of the amended reports. Mr. Stowers received this letter directly. Like the May 22 letter, the June 3 letter contained directions for appealing.
On June 26, 1987, Mr. Stowers appealed, by letter, the audit disallowances contained in the May 22 letter and the "settlement" (so labeled by both sides) assessed in the June 3 letter. In the appeal letter, Mr. Stowers requested permission to file an appeal nunc pro tunc because of confusion within the hospital offices over the date for final appeal. The confusion came as a result of the hospital's failure to realize that the letters came from separate offices and related to distinct administrative actions, with the latter "settlement" action being dependent upon the finality of the earlier action making specific disallowances. Unfortunately, the hospital believed that it had until July 3, 1987, to appeal both matters.
On July 21, 1987, Patricia H. O'Neal, of the Office of Hearings and Appeals, sent a letter to the parties acknowledging receipt of the hospital's appeals and advising them of the docket numbers with respect to the disallowances.
Counsel for DPW, contending that the hospital's appeal of the May 1987 audit disallowances had not been filed in timely fashion, filed a motion for dismissal of that appeal. The hospital filed a response contending that its June 26, 1987 request to file its appeals nunc pro tunc had been granted by DPW's acceptance for filing, and docketing, of ...