A year after North Carolina launched a massive overhaul of the state’s Medicaid billing system, some providers are still reporting major problems that have lead to increased paperwork and patients waiting longer for care.
NCTracks launched in July 2013, promising to get rid of paper, reduce fraud and get Medicaid providers paid faster; but a year later, Laura Williard with High Point-based durable medical equipment provider Advanced Home Care, said the bad continues to outweigh the good.
“We have patients that still can’t obtain equipment that they need or it’s delayed because we can’t determine the equipment they’ve had before,” Williard said.
She said Advanced Home Care has even had to hire temps to deal with some of the system issues involving claims approvals.
“We are having to manually key claims and do things that before would pay automatically,” Williard said. “At one point, I had 11 temps working for our company to do something that was paid automatically before.”
But Joe Cooper, chief information officer for the Department of Health and Human Services, said problems like Williard’s are rare. He said for the majority of providers, the system is working fine after a botched launch last year.
“The system is working well. It’s paying very well,” Cooper said, noting Medicaid has more than 97,000 providers. “We expect a few providers to have an issue, and when we get aware of it, we’re able to address it pretty quickly.”
Williard said more than just a few providers are having on-going issues. She said the entire durable medical equipment industry, which provides items like oxygen tanks and wheelchairs, is being left behind.
“I think that we represent such a small portion of the revenues for what we deal from the patients that it’s been pushed to the bottom,” Williard said. “However we are the least costly alternative for patients. We can get them out of the hospital and save the state money.”
Cooper disputes that allegation.
“All of the Medicaid providers are critically important to us,” he said. “But again, we are going to work very closely with them because we want to help them get comfortable with the system.”