10 Investigates: Medicaid Mess-Up Leaves Nurses Broke
Many home health care providers caring for Ohio's disabled and elderly are now doing it without a paycheck.
Two months without a paycheck forced some of health care providers to start pawning off their own belongings to pay their mortgage or car payments.
The 10 Investigates tip line received multiple complaints from home nurses saying they're broke.
Kim Alexander cares for 70-year-old Agnes Ross at her Columbus home. Agnes is diabetic and shows levels triple what they should be. Kim is doing all this despite not getting paid for months. She is also behind on all her bills.
"When I say everything, I mean everything,” says Alexander. “Mortgage, car payments, yes - because nothing is coming in."
That's because Alexander works for an independent health care provider company. When the state privatized Medicare and Medicaid through the MyCare Ohio program, it left these smaller provider companies in limbo.
Starr Dent owns Central Ohio Healthcare Systems. She explains: "Oh, my. July 1st. The infamous MyCare Ohio, pleasantly named 'I don't care Ohio' by our staff, was rolled out."
This independent health care provider company says they are in danger of layoffs if they don't get paid soon. Larger health care provider companies typically do their own billing, and tell 10TV MyCare Ohio is creating "some pain" but will be better in the long-term.
"I wish they would have left it as it is, the way we had it: Medicaid and Medicare,” said patient Agnes Ross.
Multiple patients statewide tell 10TV they’re finding it difficult to find doctors accepting the new health plans. That forces some elderly and disabled patients to give up doctors they’ve had for years. Aetna and Molina Healthcare say they are working to expand their networks to keep patients with their doctors.
Ohio's Department of Medicaid declined a 10TV request for an interview. They write in a statement, "My Care Ohio is another step in pursuing a person-centered, managed care model for more individuals on Medicaid. Ohio Medicaid has long been committed to the managed care approach.”
10 Investigates asked the state what outreach they did before the July 1st switch to tell providers and patients about the changes. They replied that they sent letters and held forums. However, the state's own numbers reveal only 77 central Ohio consumers out of 13,669 enrolled in the region showed up to the forums.
Both Aetna and Molina Healthcare say they are taking multiple steps to accelerate payments to independent health care providers. State law forces them to make payments within 90 days of the billing date.
Despite not being paid in months, Kim Alexander said, “In the meantime, we have orders and we have patients that we care about that we're not going to leave hanging.”
The Ohio Department of Aging’s Ombudsman accepts complaints about the MyCare Ohio system. They can be reached at 1-800-282-1206 or https://aging.ohio.gov/services/ombudsman/