DMA’s Own Error Regarding NCTracks Causing Dentists Undue Hardship?
As a Medicaid attorney and a bloggist (is that a word?), I tend to get numerous phone calls during the day from people with “information” or “evidence” that will, if I use it correctly, “take down Medicaid.” Numerous callers claim to have “smoking guns.” First of all, I do not wish to take down Medicaid. I only wish that Medicaid recipients receive good, quality healthcare, Medicaid providers receive reasonable reimbursements , and the State of North Carolina manages Medicaid in a cost-efficient, effective manner. One can dream, right?
With all the “smoking gun” phone calls, I rarely publish a blog without considerable research. Today, I am bucking my own rule. This blog is unverified. This blog is based-off of a telephone call. The only reason I am publishing an unverified blog is because (a) Medicaid is so crazy right now…so many changes…so many players…so many bad things happening to Medicaid providers that, I believe, the more information the better; (b) I do not believe I could ever verify this blog completely; and (c) if this blog is even partially correct, maybe, I will educate/inform some dentists who accept Medicaid.
I received a phone call today from a dental provider in the western part of North Carolina. She gave me some pretty disturbing information about NCTracks. According to her, (we will call her Jane), NOT ONE dental Medicaid provider has received Medicaid reimbursements from NCTracks, which went live July 1, 2013. (Now, obviously, Jane has not contacted every dentist in NC who accepts Medicaid, so this information is not verified). However, according to Jane, her information source, besides her colleagues and friends with whom she has discussed this issue, is the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA). So this is not verified, but…
Still…what if it is only 1/2 true? Then Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been less than upfront regarding the success of NCTracks.
If an NCTracks problem were so widespread, wouldn’t DHHS have issued some sort of statement? So I looked. I found:
For Immediate Release
Monday, July 8, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. – Today, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that NCTracks will successfully pay its first round of Medicaid claims this week, surpassing expectations of many health care providers.
“NCTracks is working so well after its first week in operation, we will pay many claims a full week ahead of schedule,” said Joe Cooper, Chief Information Officer for DHHS. “We are continuing to address specific technical issues as they come up, but this should be welcome news to North Carolina’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, physicians, dentists and pharmacies.”
Working so well that NCTracks will be paying providers a week early???? Really? This same quote was published in the Triangle Business Journal three days ago in an article explaining that providers have not “sounded praise bells to quite the same tone, [but] there hasn’t been a widespread negative outcry either.”
According to Jane, who runs 6 dental practices, Jane has not received 1 penny from Medicaid since June 20, 2013 (the cut-off for billing before NCTracks went live). Almost 1 month. In order to meet payroll, Jane was forced to get a loan from a bank. So far, Jane’s dental practice is owed approximately $300,000 in unpaid Medicaid reimbursements, no small amount, especially when Medicaid reimbursements barely cover administrative costs as it is.
To make matters worse, Jane was informed by the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) that the Wednesday, June 17, 2013, checkwrite (EFT effective date) will not occur. She also heard that the Tuesday, July, 23 2013, checkwrite date will not occur unless quick and drastic measures are taken.
Jane said that, at first, Jane was worried that she was not doing something correctly and that the lack of reimbursements were somehow her fault. She contacted DMA and asked many questions.
She heard (unverified) that DMA knows of this issue (the issue that zero dental providers are receiving reimbursements from NCTracks) and that DMA has admitted via email that DMA, itself, made a mistake that led to the nonpayment of Medicaid reimbursements to dentists. As in, the fact that dentists have received zero reimbursements since NCTracks’ inception is due to DMA’s own fault. (Something about incorrectly linking providers’ Medicaid numbers…)
Without Medicaid reimbursements, many smaller dental practices will be forced to close because they simply cannot function without these Medicaid reimbursements; they won’t be able to make payroll.
While I readily admit that this blog is unverified, if it is correct that all (or even most) dentists are not receiving Medicaid reimbursements, then I say, “Shame!”
If this is a widespread, state-wide issue for all dental providers who accept Medicaid, I say, “Shame on you, DHHS, for not publicizing that Medicaid reimbursements are not being paid to dentists across the board.” Many dental providers are probably, as Jane did at first, wondering what they are doing wrong. They have probably wasted hours and hours reviewing the billing claims and trying to assess what the problem is (probably blaming the billing person at their office).
We all understand DHHS’ utter abhorrence if (a) this were true; and (b) the media found out, but, AT THE VERY LEAST, publicize the issue to the dental providers adversely affected.
NCTracks has been a heated issue for DHHS since the beginning.
Before NCTracks ever went live, the NC Office of State Auditor issued a report that NCTracks had failed to fully test a new $484 million computer system scheduled to begin processing Medicaid claims on July 1. See my blog on NCTracks.
Since July 1, 2013, when NCTracks went live, I have heard numerous complaints. But, from I have seen in the media, DHHS has touted NCTracks’ success, saying, despite some bugs (which are to be expected), NCTracks has done great.
What about the dentists?
Posted on July 15, 2013, in Beth Wood, Dental Medicaid Providers, Dentistry Services, Division of Medical Assistance, Health Care Providers and Services, Medicaid, Medicaid Audits, Medicaid Billing, Medicaid Reimbursement, Medicaid Reimbursements, NC DHHS, NCTracks, North Carolina, Office of State Auditor and tagged Aldona Wos, Beth Wood, Dentistry, Dentists, Division of Medical Assistance, Health care provider, Medicaid, Medicaid Audits, Medicaid Checkwrite Schedule, Medicaid Dentists, Medicaid Reimbursments, NC DHHS, NCTracks, NCTracks Billing Issues, North Carolina, Office of State Auditor. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.