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A car drives north on North Fourth Street before turning west on Spanish Town Road, with the State Capitol in the background during a brisk Thanksgiving night, Thursday, November 23, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

A new audit says the Louisiana Department of Health improperly paid $718,000 over four years for Medicaid patients who were no longer receiving services because they had died.

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office released a report Monday that says the department spent the money between July 2013 and August 2017 for 712 deceased Medicaid patients.

Most of the improper spending involved payments made to managed-care companies that oversee services for most of Louisiana's Medicaid patients.

The numbers have improved from a previous October 2013 audit that identified $1.85 million in payments over a less-than-two-year period for more than 1,700 Medicaid recipients who had died.

The health department says it is correcting problems identified in checking death data against Medicaid records and will work to recoup any improperly-paid dollars.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.