As Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo already faces intense criticism for multiple scandals involving state social services, her administration’s newest crisis may cost Rhode Island millions of dollars.
The Providence Journal reports that because Raimondo’s Health and Human Services Department missed a key deadline for a court appeal, a “budget sinkhole” has opened up “that could require the retroactive payment of millions of Medicaid dollars to dozens of nursing homes.” This is just the latest example of of bureaucratic incompetence in Rhode Island under Raimondo’s mismanagement. For months, her administration has been plagued by worsening scandals involving the state’s child welfare agency and its problemed UHIP computer system.
Instead of addressing her administration’s failures, Raimondo is spending her time desperately jetting around the country for campaign cash while trying to improve her image to voters so she can bolster her re-election hopes. Raimondo has made it clear that effective governance comes second to fundraising for her campaign.
The Providence Journal reports:
“The state’s failure to file a ‘timely’ court appeal has opened up a budget sinkhole that could require the retroactive payment of millions of Medicaid dollars to dozens of nursing homes.
The financial consequences are so potentially large they could seriously effect legislators’ plans to roll out a new state budget this coming week. In the interim, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services has placed two staff lawyers on administrative leave pending an investigation into what happened, according to spokeswoman Ashley O’Shea.
The snafu involves an April 9 decision by Superior Judge Jeffrey Lanphear in a case that pitted dozens of nursing homes, including the Alpine Nursing Home in Coventry, against the Raimondo administration. The deadline to appeal Lanphear’s decision was May 23.
The 59 nursing homes argued — and the judge agreed — that the Raimondo administration had no legal authority to continue to use a one-year rate reduction of 2 percent that lawmakers placed in the budget for the year that ran from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, it its calculations of how much to pay the nursing homes in subsequent years.
The rate cut was part of an effort to save up to $18 million that year in nursing home payments, according to budget documents. But at the end of that one year, the judge concluded, the rates should have reverted to what they were before the cut. In judicial language: “Substantial rights of the plaintiffs have been compromised.”
The state’s potential liability is $8 million in payments for each of three years, according to O’Shea, and more than that if the decision is applied to all of the state’s nursing homes.”