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Hospitals Blame Income Shortage On State

Mountain hospitals say they have an income shortage of millions because of problems with a new state computer program that handles Medicaid claims.

"NCTracks was rolled out last summer by the Department of Health and Human Services.

But the President and CEO of Westcare Health System says his hospitals in Sylva and Bryson City are short three million dollars.

Steve Heatherly says the computer system is incorrectly processing claims and denying them.

When that system goes down our staff cannot check eligibility of Medicaid patients and so we may register a patient incorrectly. That will likely lead to further denials and rework on the part of our staff, says Heatherly.

Doctors say it's upsetting their patients and costing their practices money.

"Physician practices are also businesses and we have vendors who expect to be paid.  And so we need that cash flow in from Medicaid, says Dr. David Thomas of Mountain Regional Cancer Center in Sylva.

Thomas says a group of doctors from Wake County filed a lawsuit against the state over the Medicaid system. 

Doctors in Western North Carolina taking care of patients in a rural settingindigent patientsare very much in favor of that action, says Thomas.

Heathery and Thomas look to the state to fix the problem.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says, While we cannot comment specifically on Westcare's concerns until after further review, we can assure any provider that all accurately submitted Medicaid claims will be paid following federal and state policy."

By Rex Hodge
Follow Rex on Twitter @RexHodgeWLOS


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