Costly Glitch

SOMETIMES MOVING forward may result in a few costly steps backward.

Just ask hundreds of self-employed health care service providers in Ohio. They are feeling the effects of a computer glitch with the state’s new Medicaid billing system.

The computerized snafu has resulted in some 450 in-home care providers not receiving their paychecks for the last several weeks. The state-of-art $115 million computer system went online Aug. 2. Since that time, countless Medicaid claims have been erroneously rejected.

The new system’s gremlins have yielded unneeded pain and hardship to hundreds of individuals. So much for modern technology.

The problem emanated when the state delayed payments to all Medicaid providers — including hospitals, nursing homes and physicians — for two weeks in conjunction with the computer system conversion.

While the bigger providers were back on line with their reimbursements, the smaller providers were still left holding the bag when the Aug. 11 and Aug. 18 payments went out.

Consequently, some individuals lost various services, none of which was the result of their doing.

The state opted to replace its 25-year-old Medicaid billing system that was largely paper based. In the first three weeks, the new system paid out $550 million to some 3.3 million claims.

The new technology is expected to improve accountability and efficiency. That remains, in doubt, however, if early returns are any indication.