The Lieutenant Governor says in-home care assessments for Medicaid patients are at a crisis stage, and he’s calling on the Nixon Administration to do something about it now.
As the state’s advocate for senior citizens, Peter Kinder says the Department of Health and Senior Services is taking too long to clear a backlog of patients waiting to learn if they can have in-home care.
A private company, SynCare, had been contracted to do the job but that contract was cancelled September 1 when it proved unable. At the time about 9,300 assessment requests were waiting to be processed. Kinder says that backlog has not been eliminated, while more cases are being added daily. Of those, he says 600 of 1000 patients with critical needs still need to be assessed.
DHSS says it has processed about 6,800 requests, answered about 5,900 phone calls and is handling about twice the daily rate that SynCare was. Deputy Director Peter Lyskowski says that is with 86 additional staff members having been hired. He says the Department is not where it needs to be yet, and about 20 more staffers are needed.
Kinder says that isn’t enough. He says the additional hires will cost the state at least 8 million dollars this year, and he thinks the backlog is not being cleared fast enough to warrant that cost.
Kinder joined Battlefield Representative Thomas Long and Springfield Senator Bob Dixon in calling on the Department to allow healthcare providers to resume assessments until they are caught up. When asked about such an arrangement presenting a conflict of interest, the Lieutenant Governor said an auditing process can be set up to oversee the process.
Representative Long calls the situation an emergency that warrants immediate action and cannot wait until the next regular legislative session for a resolution. He says between now and January 4th, the next session’s start, “people are going to get sicker and people are going to die, because these are very, very vulnerable people.”
The Lieutenant Governor places the blame for what he calls an unacceptable situation on Governor Jay Nixon. “We focused on the Department. We focused on the Governor. The buck stops with him.”
Lyskowski urges those still seeking assessments to call the Department. He says a call center has been set up in St. Louis, and staff is standing by statewide to offer assistance. The main number for DHSS is (573) 751-6336.
AUDIO: Hear the media conference with Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, Representative Thomas Long and Senator Bob Dixon.