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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate P.O.'d at AHCA Medicaid contractor for failing to collect $100-mil

5

November

Phil Williams, interim deputy secretary for Medicaid at AHCA, just got an earful from senators on the health care appropriations committee who learned that the company hired last year to collect an estimated $120-million in Medicaid overpayments has so far collected zilch. Zip. Nada.

And that leaves the state's Medicaid budget $120 leaner than what was expected -- not a good situation as the Legislature looks down the barrel of rising Medicaid costs and a more than $2-billion budget shortfall.

"We are going into this budget crisis, and here we are just not collecting overpayments?," said a ticked Sen. Mike Haridopolos, the Republican tapped to be the next Senate president. "If $100 million could have been collected, how could we go a whole year without collecting money that could go back to taxpayers? And then we just tell the company that got the contract, 'Oh it's OK, we'll wait.' In the real world, a company would have been fired for doing that."

ACS State Health Care, based in Atlanta, signed a five-year contract with AHCA last November (when Republican attorney general candidate Holly Benson was in charge) to collect Medicaid overpayments. Past year trends indicated there was about $120 million in annual overpayments to be collected.

But Phil Williams, interim deputy secretary for Medicaid at AHCA, said ACS hasn't even submitted so much as an invoice in the past year since being hired. So the state can't even collect on the $35,000 fine imposed so far for ACS's lack of productivity.

"They realize they are not complying, and they are not billing us until they do comply," said newly named AHCA secretary Tom Arnold. "We are working with them on a daily basis to bring them into compliance. We are confident we will catch up on those billings. We think we are about to turn the corner, and if they don't we will take appropriate action."

Sen. Nan Rich pointed out that ACS also had problems fulfilling a KidCare contract.

"I just don't understand how, year to year, the same people do this to the taxpayers and it just goes on and on," said Rich, D-Sunrise. "And yet here we are looking at one of the most egregious budgets in terms of the services that might be cut for people."

Health Management Services had the contract previously, and bid to get it again but did not -- even though HMS scored higher than ACS on technical merits and price.

The Senate health care budget ordered AHCA to come back in December with a plan to remedy the problem with ACS.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:26pm]

    

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