Some Ohio home health care providers say they're now getting paid for their work this Labor Day after a 10TV investigation revealed they were going without paychecks for more than a month.
Home health care workers from all over Ohio told us they missed rent payments and had to start pawning off their own belongings to make ends meet. They experienced problems when Ohio's Medicare and Medicaid services went private.
The people taking care of the elderly or disabled said it is an emotionally fulfilling job, but a physically draining one. When Kim Alexander cares for 70 year old Agnes Ross in her Columbus home, she said she's doing it with an extra burden. She has not been paid since July 1 and the bills keep piling up:
Home health care worker Kim Alexander explained, "When I say everything, I mean everything: Mortgage, car payments, yes, because nothing was coming in."
Alexander works for an independent health care provider company. When the state privatized Medicare and Medicaid through the MyCare Ohio program, it left these small provider companies without payments from large insurance companies.
Central Ohio Healthcare System's owner said, there's been some progress.
"Since we last aired, we have been given a direct liaison from Aetna Insurance and also Molina. They have been working to try and expedite the issue," said Starr Dent of Central Ohio Healthcare Systems. "When I spoke to the representative from Aetna, she told me she has seen my interview several weeks ago, I think that has raised us up on the food chain a little bit."
Aetna, one of two insurance companies involved in Central Ohio's MyCare Ohio program released this statement Monday: "Of all the backlogged claims that were associated with the initial slow payments at the launch of MyCare, we have now processed essentially 100% of those claims and advanced payments to providers when necessary. Part of our training is to help providers build a regular claims submission process that includes all the information necessary for us to automatically pay their claims on a regular schedule. We also have built the ability for providers to submit claims directly and simply through our website. MyCare is a transformational program for Ohio, one that will deliver improved access to care, coordination of care, quality of care and a simplified experience for our members."
Some health provider companies are already cutting nurses pay by 10% and if checks don't come soon, patients will have to find somebody else to care for them.
Starr Dent added, "In the middle of September, if we have not received reimbursement, we will have to discharge our patients. This is going to force the costs of healthcare higher. These consumers, if they do not have home care, they are going to end up in the emergency room."
The Ohio Department of Aging Ombudsman is taking complaints from patients or providers concerning the MyCare Ohio program. It can be reached at <https://aging.ohio.gov/services/ombudsman/> or 1-800-282-1206.