Alaska has $200M Medicaid claims payment backlog

Medicaid providers in Alaska state a faulty claims processing system has put them on shaky financial ground as they await payments held up for months, reported the Alaska Dispatch.

Alaska's Medicaid program began using a claims processing system from Xerox last October, according to the Dispatch. As a result, claims submitted as early as September 2013 have yet to be paid.

A legislative hearing held on the matter earlier this week brought a litany of complaints from providers, who claim the agency isn't making payments or approving service authorizations and they must resubmit claims repeatedly. Moreover, calls to Xerox have resulted in wait times of 30 minutes or more, or providers receive conflicting instructions.

Prior to the new processing system, Alaska's Medicaid program, which covers about 140,000 residents, made about $26 million in claims payments every week. That amount has dropped to as little as $10 million a week since the new processing system went online.

Karen Perdue, president of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, said the unpaid backlog of claims has reached about $200 million to date.

Alaska is not alone in experiencing Medicaid claims processing snafus. In New York, snarls in its processing system led to overpayments to providers of as much as $42 million, an audit concluded. In Florida, processing problems left the state unable to collect hundreds of millions of Medicaid payments from counties.

The $32 million system in Alaska appeared to work well in testing, but glitches became apparent during the first few weeks of its launch. As a result, Alaska Health and Social Services Commissioner William Streur said Xerox will not get most of what it is owed--about $25 million--until it fixes the system.

To learn more:
- read the Alaska Dispatch article