More problems with medicaid. Despite the promises of Maryland health reform, poor performance by the Department of Human Resources still hurting those in need.
Advocates for low-income and disabled Marylanders filed a class-action lawsuit against the state accusing the Department of Human Resources of failing the citizens of Maryland. Complaining of a severe and chronic backlog, the suit alleges that the Department of Human Resources routinely takes almost a year to approve medical assistance applications.
The lawsuit claims to represent 10,000 disabled adults and was filed last week in Baltimore Circuit Court seeking to force the department to make a decision on Medicaid applications within 60 days as required by law. The lawsuit alleges that almost half of all applications in 2012 were illegally delayed often causing “life-threatening health risks”, as the health of waiting patients deteriorated and the cost of care to the state greatly increased.
The lead plaintiff is Marylou Magee-Kern, a 47-year-old Reisterstown woman who has waited more than 230 days for the state to approve her application and has been unable to get regular treatment, according to the lawsuit. Magee-Kern first applied on May 29, 2012 and had not heard from the state since July 30, 2012.
While the most severe current problem is approving applications from disabled adults, this is not the first time the department has had a problem. Four years ago the department was sued to improve performance when 4,000 food stamp and 7,000 medical assistance applications were delayed. The suit was later dismissed that year, 2009, when the department showed improvement in case handling.
Then again in 2011 and 2012 the federal GAO, Government Accouting Office, declared Maryland “Number 1 in food stamp fraud” and the state was heavily fined. A problem the department is still working on.
Also last year we learned that it typically takes nine months for Medicaid determinations for nursing homes. Legislation was introduced seeking, similarly to the current law suit, simply to have the department make determinations within the legal time limits prescribed by law. The measure was held with the understanding that the department “was working on the problem.” It is time to stop accepting excuses and for the Department of Human Resources to do its job administerting these programs.