The Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously during Tuesday’s board meeting to join the lawsuit, along with 55 other counties in the state of Florida, against the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Revenue for disputed medical billing.
County Attorney Richard Wesch gave the BOCC a presentation about whether the county should join the Florida Association of Counties in this lawsuit and the options that go along with it. It will cost the county $3,500 to join the lawsuit. Under a new law, the two state agencies will require all 67 Florida counties to pay about $325.5M for what the state calls backlog medical bills for low-income and disabled patients.
Currently, the County pays for a portion of Medicaid costs for hospitalization and nursing home beds for County residents. Unfortunately, due to the ‘new’ Medicaid billing system many counties, including Citrus, have been billed incorrectly, double billed or had other errors in establishing proof of residency. County leaders say the county staff did its due diligence in keeping billing paperwork up to date and following established state procedures.
Amy Engelken, Assistant Community Services Director, spoke to the Board and explained the specifics of why the counties dispute the bills. She explained many of the bills that date back to 2001, have already been paid or lacked an appropriate address to prove the patient lived in the county.
For Citrus County, the bill keeps adding up. The County is given a bill at the end of each month citing a new amount. Right now, the bill stands at $1.1M. Amy Engelken reassured the board her and her staff were going through the bills as thoroughly as possible, and have already identified $450,000 in disputed bills.
Wesch says the County is doing what it can to check these bills and make sure they are accurate. “We are perfectly willing to pay what we owe under existing law. Our problem comes when the state starts withholding the County’s tax revenue share for these error-ridden bills.”
ACHA (Agency for Healthcare Administration) will meet with County staff sometime in May and will go over some of the disputed bills. ACHA has until August 1 to issue the county a final owed amount. The County then has 30 days to challenge an action.