Medicaid providers get squeezed

Sunday, November 30, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - HME providers could find themselves at the end of a very long line of Medicaid providers waiting for payment as a $2 billion state budget shortfall worsens.
"We are not the big fish in the pond," said Tom Renk, executive director of the Illinois Association of Medical Equipment Suppliers (IAMES). "Until the patients stop getting the care they need, the middlemen (will continue to get squeezed)."
While providers here say budget problems are nothing new for their state, they did enjoy some temporary relief this summer when the Department of Health and Family Services began issuing lump sum payments, bringing many to within a reasonable 30 days sales outstanding.
That's about to change, cautions Dave Doubek, president of IAMES. The time it takes to get paid will increase significantly over the next three to six months, he said. Each week, the state will add three or four days to the amount of time it takes to process payments, he said.
"They expect (the backlog) to be up to 120 days and more as time goes on," said Doubek.
With the current state of the national economy, providers could find themselves unable to weather cash flow problems, said Renk.
"If they are not able to get loans to front their Medicaid payments, they could have to lay people off," he said. "I think a lot of these guys are going to get fed up and seek other kinds of work or not accept those patients."