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Published: Friday, 7/18/2003

Sandusky County MRDD board to sue

The Sandusky County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities plans to join a lawsuit aimed at recovering federal reimbursement for Medicaid services it has provided since 1993.

The board voted Wednesday night to join a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Cleveland, by the Cuyahoga County MRDD board against the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Department of MRDD, and the two departments' directors.

In the suit, the Cuyahoga board seeks recovery of $16.6 million it says it is owed for services provided between 1993 and 2002.

The two state agencies are charged with auditing the county boards and requesting the federal money on their behalf.

Deb Yenrick, MRDD superintendent in Sandusky County, said her county is owed about $250,000 for the same period. The money would cover the costs of occupational, physical, and speech therapy, and other services provided to clients that are to be reimbursed to county boards under the Community Alternative Funding System program.

“We're very interested in getting this taken care of,” Ms. Yenrick said. “This is funding we've deserved for a long time.”

The lawsuit, which other county MRDD boards are expected to join, came as a surprise to the state agencies which say they have been working on a plan to get the federal reimbursement and to remedy future problems.

Jon Allen, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said the agency is working to get a fixed-fee reimbursement system in place to replace the current system under which county boards submit their expenses. Different counties routinely submit a range of costs, he said, and that has raised questions with the federal government in the past.

Once the new rules are in place, Mr. Allen said, his agency anticipates mass settlements for counties for the years 1997 and 1999.

The department along with the MRDDs then would conduct audits and obtain reimbursement for county boards for 2000, 2001, and 2002.

The state previously conducted an audit for 1998 and released money to county boards for that year.



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