Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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September 7th, 2012

Medicaid Transportation Costs at Scandalous Levels

Sullivan County legislators Cindy Gieger, Kathleen Vetter, and Cora Edwards have been on a mission to cut the waste out of social services. They have been delving into every cost and expense and are not happy with what they are uncovering.
We all know that mandates are crushing us to death, but what is even more shocking is how New York State allows vendors to charge for services.

You may be wondering why cars and vans transporting people to medical appointments appear to be popping up all over Sullivan County, well that’s because it’s become a big business.

Medicaid transportation costs have skyrocketed to scandalous levels, and New York State is not willing to lower the current fees charged by transportation vendors, even though in other counties they are at significantly lower levels. I hope our elected state representatives will take note and work to assist legislators Gieger, Vetter, and Edwards in their mission to provide services while saving taxpayers money.

At one time the county had its own vehicles transporting Medicaid recipients to medical appointments, but that was stopped by New York State. We are now part of the Medical Answering Services consortium that operates out of Syracuse serving 13 counties.

Sullivan County’s transportation claims in just the first six months of 2012 have exceeded $2.5 million, with some transportation providers billing $100,000 to over $500,000. Several transportation vendors have even requested fee increases but were denied. New York State’s Department of Health sets the fee schedule in Sullivan County.

In a letter dated August 27, 2012, New York State’s Department of Health’s Division of Program Development and Management, the agency that sets the Medicaid transportation fee schedule, denied Sullivan County’s request for a reduction in fees paid for transportation services.

The reason cited to deny Sullivan County’s request was that lowering the established level could jeopardize access to care for residents whose health is paramount.

Gieger told me, “As Chair of Health and Family Services, I am a strong advocate of ensuring that the needs of our residents are met. It is our responsibility to make every effort to identify areas needing change to ensure that our taxpayer money is being spent wisely.”

Gieger added, “Oversight of state funding allocated to Medicaid is critical. Every taxpayer dollar spent on Medicaid overpayment for services takes away from our responsibility to our seniors, disabled, veterans and poor.”

There has to be a better cost effective system to transport people on Medicaid to doctor appointments. If New York State does not want to change the rates charged, they should stop billing Sullivan County for costs.

New York is one of only two states in the nation that requires counties to send locally generated tax dollars to the State for the Medicaid programs. The promise by state officials to relieve Counties from costly mandates has not been kept.

I am told Geiger is putting together an advisory panel similar to the Law Enforcement Review panel to take a deeper look at the costs of social services in Sullivan County.

Keep poking around legislators Gieger, Vetter, and Edwards. I can’t wait to see what else is uncovered.

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