(Springfield, IL) — January 8, 2010. Pharmacies, nursing homes and other medical institutions that provide Medicaid services in Illinois are seeing an increase in wait time for payments from the state.
In past years, 45 business days was the maximum time period a Medicaid provider had to wait for state reimbursement, but now it can take up to 92 business days, or over 4 months, according to Comptroller Dan Hynes office. Even with time extended, however, many providers still do not receive their payments on time.
Denver Bitner, president of the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois said the agency is in serious financial trouble because of late payments.
“We basically provide about $100 million worth of social services within the state,” Bitner said. “About $1 million of that a week is provided through the state.”
While they have not been forced to shut their doors, Bitner said he has heard of other agencies that went under because of a lack of reimbursements for services provided.
“These are not just services that are nice to have,” he said. “These are services that are critical. People die when we don’t provide these services.”
Pharmacies throughout Illinois have to adjust their financial plans because of the change in the state’s payments.
Mike Minesinger is the owner of Alwan Pharmacy in Peoria and 53 percent of his customers are under Medicaid. Instead of investing in his business, Minesinger said, he must make sure he keeps enough funds in savings to get by until the state reimburses him.
Minesinger’s pharmacy falls under a “hardship” policy where his payments from the state are expedited faster because he has more patients using his pharmacy than most. Still, he said, it takes him 60 days to get a reimbursed for services provided.
“Usually we get a check a week from the state,” Minesinger said. “We are still getting checks, but they are not a whole week’s check…It’s a check, but it may only be for 4 days.”
Another Peoria area pharmacy owner, David Newell, said his business, Hometown Pharmacy, is experiencing the opposite of Minesinger.
He said to about 10 percent of his customers are Medicaid patients and he is getting payments faster than he did in past years. He said he may be an exception due to his low volume of Medicaid services.
“Relative to past years, it is really not as bad,” Newell said. “But, we’ve almost become conditioned to [payments] not being very prompt.”
Both Minesinger and Bitner said Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan for short-term borrowing and finding a solution for long-term payments would have been the right steps toward getting more money for their services, but Hynes refused to sign off on more short-term borrowing.
“[Quinn] was able to get the budget passed, but it was not at a significant level to take care of the bills and to prevent further bills from coming up,” Minesinger said.
–Ashley Badgley, Illinois StateHouse News
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