Maine makes moves to fix Medicaid

Saturday, March 31, 2007

AUGUSTA, Maine - To the relief of providers, Maine's Health and Human Services department may hire an outside vendor to handle Medicaid claims. Problems began in November 2004, when MaineCare installed a new $22 million computer system. Since then, glitches have continuously held up payments to providers, and the state has sunk another $23 million into trying to fix problems.
"As a taxpayer I'm appalled that so much money has been dumped into this," said Tyrrell Hunter, president of Topsham-based Majors Mobility. "If an outside vendor can do a better job, great."
About 30 states already use outside vendors to process Medicaid claims.
Jim Greatorex, president of Black Bear Medical in Portland, had $400,000 in unpaid claims over 60 days last fall, forcing him to briefly put wheelchairs for Medicaid beneficiaries on hold.
"They've resolved the payments," said Greatorex. "But the system isn't fixed. They forced the clams through."
Both Hunter and Greatorex agree hiring an outside vendor is a step in the right direction.
"The system now, they know they can't fix it," said Greatorex. "They're just going to keep sinking money and people into this thing."