Shutdown holds up Medicaid payments to DC providers

The ongoing government shutdown has cut off the flow of Medicaid dollars to providers in the District of Columbia, the Washington Post reported.

Approximately $89.2 million in Medicaid managed care payments were placed on hold last week because of the shutdown, acccording to the Post. Another $23 million in fee-for-service payments is also owed providers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Although Medicaid funds are continuing to flow to providers nationwide during the shutdown, DC is in a unique fiscal and legal situation because its federal operating funds have been cut off until the shutdown ends. Although the District can currently draw Medicaid funds, it must flow through the contingency fund currently in use to keep the city operating, but federal regulations bar it from doing so.

While District officials have told Medicaid providers to continue submitting their claims, the Post said it remains unclear whether payers would pass on capitated payments.

The shutdown is also affecting other federally-funded facets of healthcare delivery. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has furloughed virtually its entire staff, delaying Meaningful Use certifications and other initiatives overseen by the agency.

Meanwhile, District officials say a prolonged shutdown could put an enormous amount of pressure on its safety net providers. "It'll be cataclysmic if things go beyond two weeks," Wayne Turnage, director of the District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance, told the Wall Street Journal.

To learn more:
- read the Washington Post article
- here's the Wall Street Journal article