New York lawmakers help out providers

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NEW YORK -- Legislators called the state's Medicaid administrators to account in July after consumers, physicians and providers complained about delays in the approval process for mobility equipment.
The state's deputy commissioner in the Health Department's Office of Medicaid Management told a packed hearing room that 95% of requests for equipment are approved and blamed delays on suppliers who are tardy with submissions.
A New York Medical Equipment Providers association official, who testified at the hearing, said that things have improved since the Department of Health moved all downstate claims upstate to the Albany office and virtually ground prior authorizations to a standstill but that more needs to be done.
"Repairs are now going through," said Carol Napierski, executive director of NYMEP, "but we're still having issues with prior authorizations for customized items."
The downstate office had been processing about 17,000 prior approvals per year, according to one estimate. Repair work, especially, fell off dramatically after the New York City office shut down.
Since April 1, the Department of Health has moved a number of items off prior approval to direct bill status or another status that precludes the necessity of a prior approval.
The Department of Health has also formed a work group to address mobility concerns.