Poughkeepsie… County Executive William R. Steinhaus today announced a settlement with the New York State Department of Health that will award $4.55 million in funds owed to Dutchess County. Beginning in the 1970s, New York State began to release clients from state psychiatric centers into the community, placing an undue fiscal burden on host counties having to cover costs for all medical services provided to these clients under the Medicaid program. Dutchess County hosted three large state centers in Dover, Wassaic, and the town of Poughkeepsie.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “State law had assured counties of 100% funding for all medical services provided to eligible clients who had been released from the state psychiatric hospitals, but the identification of these individuals for reimbursement purposes was problematic.”
Counties questioned whether all eligible clients were properly identified guaranteeing counties lawful reimbursement from the state.
“In recent months, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), in partnership with state agencies, was able to provide lists to counties to identify and certify past eligible claims and facilitate this settlement,” continued Steinhaus.
“With the information we received, I asked county staff to work diligently to research and identify these claims, some going back ten years or more, and I commend Commissioner Allers and his staff for their hard work,” he added.
According to Commissioner Robert B. Allers, “This was a worker intensive search as many records were in storage or had to be recreated due to the age of the bills. Staff in our Medicaid Unit successfully carried out a difficult task to maximize our county’s claims.”
Medicaid has been at the forefront of the agenda of county officials and NYSAC for years. In 2005, the decades long county struggle with the state on the Medicaid cost structure met with some success. New York State agreed to slow the growth of new Medicaid costs to counties. County Executive Steinhaus has been an active participant in these efforts, including having served as past President of NYSAC and the NYS Association of County Executives.
In yet another initiative to help protect taxpayers, and separate from the $4.55 million settlement, County Executive Steinhaus also signed an agreement in late 2005 for Dutchess County to participate in NYSAC’s VerifyNY Medicaid fraud and abuse detection project. NYSAC, in cooperation with IBM, offered this opportunity to a limited number of counties as a pilot project. The VerifyNY initiative allows counties for the first time to recapture monies from providers – monies that have been incorrectly or fraudulently billed.
Steinhaus also proposed, and the County Legislature endorsed in the 2006 budget, a Medicaid Stabilization Plan that will set aside unspent prior year Medicaid appropriations to deal with the state’s planned 2006 mid-year Medicaid adjustment, as well as the new Medicaid growth projected over the next three to four years. This will also reduce the future burden on county property taxpayers.
County Executive Steinhaus noted good fiscal management of our Medicaid system must include the County being reimbursed in accordance with the law and being certain the County only pay for services provided - while still assuring medical services are made available to the eligible needy of the community.