Delegate Tony McConkey's Official Blog

Disabled Sue Over Maryland Medicaid Problems


More Maryland Medicaid problems.  Despite the promises of Maryland health reform, poor performance by the Department of Human Resources still hurting the disabled.

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.

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1 Comment

  1. Takingalongtime.

    I think that part of the problem lies with the people they hire to process applications. I have been waiting two months for the application I submitted for my wife and I for Medicaid to be enrolled in Medicaid. I have called them every two weeks about 4 times now and each time a different person tells me something different. My first call the woman that answered my call kept putting me on hold. She did that 6 times and kept coming back on the phone telling me to be patient with her. She said she had no idea of what was going on and could not get anything to work. Finally she told me to call back when I thought enough time had elapsed and gave me a reference number. On the second call, the woman that answered the phone told me that since my wife had become a recent citizen of the United States, she could not receive any benefits for 5 years and that was the root of the problem. We all know that is not the truth. Why is that woman working for them if that is the only answer she could come up with? That answer was nothing more than a reflection of either her inadequate training or her lack of intelligence to understand her training. Which would cause a delay in processing applications if the people have no idea of what they are doing. I do not think they get rid of anyone who does not quite understand what is going on. Everyone of them finally asked a supervisor and that’s when they gave me another reference number and was told to wait a while and then call back AGAIN. Someone, somewhere in that office has to know what the problem is with my application. This Friday will be my fifth call. This time I am going to demand to talk to a supervisor and see if that works. Maybe they just figure they have 60 days to do it and just take their time and all of a sudden my application will go through. You know, just push it to the side and work on it in time to get it through before 60 days elapses. I mean something is just not right for it to take this long. Friday will be my 60 day mark by law. ” The lawsuit alleges that almost half of all applications in 2012 were illegally delayed” How about letting us know HOW they were illegally delayed? I bet that would be interesting.


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