Manatee County to sue state over Medicaid bills

Apr 10, 2012

The following article was published in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on April 10, 2012:

Manatee to sue state ovre Medicaid bills

By Vincent F. Safuto

The county will pursue a lawsuit or join a lawsuit with other counties against the state of Florida, which claims Manatee County owes about $4 million in back Medicaid fees.

The County Commission voted 6-0 Tuesday in favor of legal action, with Commissioner Carol Whitmore not voting.

County Attorney Tedd Williams said the motion authorizes the filing of two suits, one with the Florida Association of Counties, and one by the county alone. If filing alone, further board approval is needed, he said.

Brenda Rogers, director of the community services department, told commissioners that staffers are trying to figure out what Manatee County actually owes the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

The state says the county owes $4.4 million, and the burden of proof is on the county to deal with the bills that have been challenged.

Questions over what is owed center on potential mistakes in where patients reside, and subsequently which county is billed.

The county says it likely was mistakenly billed for services for the residents of other counties, while other counties probably were billed for Manatee County residents. Fixing that could mean the county will be hit with new bills from the state program, which provides medical care to income-qualified residents, then bills counties for a portion of the medical costs tied to their residents.

The county could settle with the state and pay 85 percent of the outstanding Medicaid bills the state has charged to Manatee County, officials said.

Another issue, noted Commissioner Joe McClash, is where the money will come from to pay the state. “Have we budgeted any dollars in our budgets to allocate for the possibility that some of these bills may be owed?” he asked.

“At this time, it’s a budget issue for next year,” said James Seuffert, county finance director.

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