Time for states to pass the bucks

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John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
Hats off to Reps. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA). They just introduced legislation intended to deal with the shameful way many states approach paying long-term care providers. How shameful is the issue? In Illinois, as one example, it's not uncommon for providers to wait four to six months for Medicaid reimbursement.

Their Fair Pay to Medicaid Providers Act would force states to pay 90% of Medicaid claims within 30 days of receipt, and 99% of claims within 90 days. Funny enough, physicians already receive this guarantee. (And you wonder why the American Medical Association spends millions of dollars each year lobbying Congress?)

Most people and businesses feel obliged to promptly pay for services rendered. Alas, states and the federal government appear to have their own ecosystems, especially when it comes to accounts payable. Their collective behavior makes deadbeat dads look like fathers of the year.

It's sad that such legislation is necessary. More worrisome still is that the bill will probably die a quiet death in committee. The message to operators seems to be pretty ominous: Yes, you'll be held to increasingly higher standards. Just don't expect to get paid any time soon.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.