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Published: Saturday, 12/24/2011

Computer glitch delays Medicaid workers' pay

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Towyanna Hudson counted on receiving more than $300 for her part-time care of two young Medicaid recipients to pay for Christmas dinner and gifts for her 5-year-old grandson.

But after the Toledo licensed practical nurse's bank account didn't show a deposit Thursday, the independent home-care provider learned that, because of an error during updates to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services computer system, she probably won't be paid until next week.

Glitches in the state's new Medicaid Information Technology System in August delayed payments of more than $5,000 to Ms. Hudson. She said she had to borrow to cover five weeks' missed pay for full-time work, and car payments she missed led to a repossession.

A similar thing happening three days before Christmas is too much, Ms. Hudson said.

"It's really mean that they would do this," she said. "We were counting on the paycheck right before Christmas. It's not like I'm asking them for free money. I work for it."

Angela Terez, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which oversees Medicaid, said the state is working to reduce the number of errors with the system, including doing updates.

"We are going to fix our issues as fast as we can," she said.

It will not be known until the middle of next week how many providers were affected by this latest error, she said, adding that Ohio has 90,000 Medicaid providers and pays out more than $1 billion a month.

In August, a department spokesman said less than 1 percent of Medicaid providers' payment requests were denied erroneously.

Dyserve Inc. in Columbus, which does billing for independent contractors like Ms. Hudson, agencies, and transportation firms, said at least 100 of its clients were affected by errors since the state's new billing system began in August, David Smith, owner, said.

A state notice received by Dyserve said 399 claims were affected by computer-system updates made Dec. 16, when the latest error occurred.

The notice does not say how many providers were involved but says claims will be paid next week.

Knowing that the system is troubled, it would have made sense for the state to hold off on updates until after Christmas, or do another payment cycle to ensure providers were paid before the holiday, Mr. Smith said.

Ms. Hudson said she still is trying to catch up on bills from when she was not paid on time in August.

"Are they going to be able to keep doing this whenever they feel like it?" she asked.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com or 419-724-6087.



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