A chronically delayed new computer software system to handle North Dakota’s Medicaid bills, which was to be finished in nine months, will not be working until mid-2013, an executive told state legislators Thursday. The project was originally scheduled to be finished two years ago. Last summer, a vice president for the software’s developer, Affiliated Computer Services Inc., promised it would be functioning by June 2012. ACS is a unit of Xerox Corp.
New York state’s botched effort to modernize its Medicaid billing system is becoming an increasingly costly mistake. … State audits have criticized the payments to Computer Sciences Corp. as excessive. But the total is likely to grow by hundreds of millions of dollars, as longstanding plans to pull the plug on the contract and replace the system appear to have been put on hold. … Health officials, who issued a request for proposals for a new system last year, had been planning to award a new contract by the end of the year. At least two other companies are vying for the contract, including Hewlett-Packard and Affiliated Computer Services, a division of Xerox.
The Republican budget proposal aims to replace traditional Medicare with private health plans. Will this reduce costs?
* Paul Starr – No Controlling for Costs
* James C. Capretta – Give the Beneficiary Control
* Andrea Louise Campbell – Why Seniors Like Traditional Medicare
* John Podesta – The Elderly Will Pay More or Get Less
* Grace-Marie Turner – Patient-Centered Program
Republican governor Rick Scott’s push to privatize Medicaid in Florida is highly controversial–not least because the health care business Scott handed over to his wife when he took office could reap a major profit if the legislation becomes law. Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill  that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers. The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, according to the Palm Beach Post, he transferred  his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations.
Rick Scott’s extremely profitable policy proposal
Source: Ezra Klein, Washington Post, March 25, 2011
FL Privatized Medicaid Hits a Snag
Source: Public News Service, September 19, 2011
WASHINGTON — Months after they hammered Democrats for cutting Medicare, House Republicans are debating whether to relaunch their quest to privatize the health program for seniors. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is testing support for his idea to replace Medicare with a fixed payment to buy a private medical plan from a menu of coverage options….Under Ryan’s plan, current Medicare recipients would get to stay in the program. People within 10 years of eligibility – ages 55 to 64 – would also go into Medicare. But those now 54 and under would get a fixed payment from the government when they become eligible at age 65. They would be able to use the voucher to buy a Medicare-approved private plan from a menu of coverage levels and options.
In 2007, Utah lawmakers told the Department of Health to transfer control of determining who is eligible for Medicaid to the Department of Workforce Services. The move was meant to bring applications for health, food stamps, welfare and other low-income programs under one roof, and was supposed to save up to $4 million. Details are scarce. What privatizing Medicaid eligibility would mean, for example, to the 986 state workers who now screen applicants for the programs is unclear.
Utah’s Medicaid budget is $1.8 billion and growing, consuming 18 percent of the state’s general fund and projected to consume 36 percent by 2020, said the Republican from Bountiful. That’s without the expansion of the program in 2014 under federal health reform….. Meanwhile, the contractor drawing the most attention from lawmakers is Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS), a lead player in Indiana’s flawed attempt to make a similar change. ACS was among half a dozen government contractors summoned to the Utah Capitol last week to pitch their ideas for improving Medicaid.
Despite the complaint of a rival, a five-year, $176.9 million contract has been awarded to HP Enterprise Services to take over the bill-paying and fraud-checking in the state’s giant Medicaid program. … Rival company ACS State Healthcare claimed the state did not comply with the rules in awarding the contract. ….
…The board also approved $396,890 to pay off vendors who operate self-service kiosks at state Department of Motor Vehicles locations. Newly-installed Director Bruce Breslow said the kiosks are becoming increasingly popular as “people are getting the word they do not have to stand in line.”
Source: By BOB SCOTT, Journal & Courier
(IN), April 3,
The final rollout of the modernized
and privatized Indiana welfare system will take place, a
state spokesman says, despite the recession and criticism from groups that
represent the elderly, disabled and lower income
…… On Thursday, members of the Indiana Home Task Force held a press conference at Food Finders Food Bank to urge citizens to oppose the privatized welfare system.
The task force includes the Indiana Alliance for Retired Americans, United Senior Action and community groups around the state.
Source:By Stacy Forster, Journal Sentinel
(WI), Mar. 19,
A computer glitch at the state
Department of Health Services caused 5,000 Wisconsin Medicare recipients to be
mistakenly notified they were ineligible for benefits that should have been
…… In January 2008, contractor EDS Corp. mailed 260,000 brochures to
Medicaid recipients that included their Social Security numbers on the address
labels. In late 2006, a different contractor printed 171,000 tax forms with
Social Security numbers on the mailing labels.
Source: By ROBERT PEAR, New York Times, November 24, 2008
Private health insurance plans, which serve nearly a fourth of all Medicare beneficiaries, have increased the cost and complexity of the program without any evidence of improving care, researchers say in studies to be published Monday.
The studies, questioning the value of some private plans for Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers, were issued as President-elect Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats take aim at the plans and consider cutting the payments they receive. Enrollment in private Medicare plans has nearly doubled in five years, to 10.1 million.