Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gov. McCrory unleashes another "nightmare" on the poor

Gov. McCrory, who has enacted legislation to strip unemployment benefits from more than 70,000 long-term out-of-work North Carolinians and cut earned income tax credit payments for low-income working families, has now unleashed a new "nightmare" on poor families and children--a malfunctioning Medicaid payment system.

The News Observer reports
The state Department of Health and Human Services warned providers to expect a few bumps after the new Medicaid billing system came online July 1. For many, the bumpy weeks have been worse than they imagined, and they have not been told when the frustration will end.

...“This change with NC Tracks has been anything but successful,” said Susan Walsh, office manager at the Purcell Clinic, a pediatric practice in Laurinburg. “They have serious defects . Practices aren’t getting paid, which is very serious for all of us financially.”

Doctors, dentists, pharmacists, in-home care providers and medial equipment companies say the new software system is riddled with problems. Pharmacists cannot get approval to fill some prescriptions for medicine. Companies submit bills only to learn that they’ve vanished into the system. Doctors’ offices do not have at the ready information they need to know which patients they should treat or whether they need to collect copayments – information the old payment system provided.

...NC Tracks is “really a nightmare,” said Beth Bowen, executive director of the N.C. Association for Medical Equipment Services.

“We were expecting glitches,” she said. “We weren’t expecting complete failure of the system here, and that’s what happened.”
The problems were foreseen. In May, the state auditor reported that results from more than one-third of 834 critical system tests were missing. The auditor also reported numerous other problems, including the lack of formal "go/no-go" criteria to determine whether the system would be ready to operate on July 1. The auditor further recommended that "the Department should re-evaluate its current 'Go' decision for July 1, 2013."

No matter, Gov. McCrory unleashed the NC Tracks system anyway.