Feds Stopped Medicaid Payments in January; Barnes Says Small Surplus Still Possible
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget director reported Wednesday that the state would end the 2015 fiscal year with a small, $300,000 surplus if the federal government agrees to begin reimbursing the state hundreds of millions of dollars for care provided to some Medicaid recipients.
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services stopped payments to the state in January when it found discrepancies in the numbers the state was reporting. Connecticut decided to accept the federal government’s initiative to expand Medicaid eligibility up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and reimburse the state 100 percent of the costs for some of those individuals. Others in Medicaid would still receive a lower reimbursement rate.
Between January and March, according to the Department of Social Services, the federal government refused to pay the state $249 million for those Medicaid recipients. The number continued to grow through July, but state officials were unable to say Wednesday what exactly the federal government owes the state.
In the meantime, the state has been forced to find the money to make the payments to the health care providers as it looks to reach an agreement with the federal government over how many individuals qualified for the new higher reimbursement rate.
Budget Director Ben Barnes told state Comptroller Kevin Lembo that his office is “closely monitoring federal review of Medicaid reimbursements for a variety of programs and services.”
Barnes said his office, along with the departments of Social Services and Mental Health and Addiction Services, are “actively engaged with the federal government in addressing issues relating to claiming methodologies and allowable costs.”
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Barnes said the situation regarding Medicaid expansion is “less than ideal,” but he believes they will find a resolution at the latest by the end of December.
Ideally, “we should have this resolved long before then,” he added.
Barnes was unable to recall the exact amount the state was owed off the top of his head.
However, using the estimated loss of about $250 million for the first three months of the year, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that the state could be facing an additional $750 million shortfall in Medicaid reimbursements by December.
“It’s aggravating dealing with a federal bureaucracy,” Barnes said.
But he remained optimistic the state would resolve its differences with the federal government.
As far as maintaining the Medicaid program, Barnes said he wasn’t concerned about the state’s ability to continue making Medicaid payments to providers in the absence of federal funding. He said the state should have no problem with cash flow.