A struggle

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Thanks for putting the spotlight on the Department of Health and Human Services’ on-going computer problems and payment issues (editorial, March 25).

As a nursing home provider for seven years in Maine, I’d like to point out that this difficult circumstance originated in 2005. DHHS began making estimated payments shortly after the computer malfunction began in January 2005. At Victorian Villa, we were no longer receiving estimated payments for our 100 MaineCare residents and adult day service clients by the fall of 2005. The estimated payments were supposed to tide us over until the correct payment could be made. Initially, we assumed that DHHS would offset the estimated payment against the actual payment. Since they haven’t been able to do it that way, they wound up duplicating payments.

To resolve the financial crisis, the state sent overpayment letters to most providers. Our letter said we’d received over a half-million dollars in estimated payments and requested that we set up a payment plan to repay it. Their dates and amounts matched our dates and amounts just fine; however, we are in no position to repay all of the interim payments since we haven’t received all the corresponding actual payments. We have repaid $150,000 and plan to repay the rest as we receive the actual payments.

In a business that struggles to survive on MaineCare reimbursement that is less than 100 percent of the cost – any disruption to timely and correct payment can be devastating.

Mark A. Jacobs, administrator, Victorian Villa Rehabilitation and Living Center, Canton

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