State delays scheduled Medicaid payments

As if medical providers who accept Medicaid aren’t financially battered enough, Colorado is temporarily holding back $38 million in scheduled Medicaid payments owed to medical providers.

Providers will not receive payments June 25 and July 2, but will receive the lump sum owed on July 9, according to state officials.

According to state law, the Medicaid department can delay payments to providers in times of fiscal crisis, a condition the state has deemed is occurring. Delaying payments will allow the state to balance the budget and pay out the funds during the next fiscal year.

State officials released the news to providers June 9 in an e-mail, although some physicians and clinics didn’t find out about it until last week, leaving little time for some providers to juggle a loss of income.

“I really feel for these providers,” spokeswoman Joanne Lindsay of the state’s Department of Health and Financing said. “It’s tough. They really are committed to providing for the neediest. The sad thing is we want them to continue what they’re doing.”

Medical providers already take a financial hit by accepting Medicaid patients, as reimbursement rates from the government are substantially less than payments from private insurances.

A similar Medicaid payment suspension occurred in Colorado in 2003, which also dealt providers a blow, Lindsay said.

“I think really as a state we’ve looked at everything and have cut services in other areas,” she said. “It’s not as though it’s an easy thing to do.”


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