Sep 17 2002

SHELBY CALLS ON ADMINISTRATION TO RESOLVE ALABAMA MEDICAID ISSUES

U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), today called on the Administration to seek a quick resolution to outstanding issues affecting Alabama's Medicaid recipients.

In a letter to Administrator Thomas Scully of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Senator Shelby requested assistance in resolving an outstanding dispute between the State of Alabama and the agency. In May of 2001, the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services determined that the State had miscalculated the federal portion of Medicaid payments and recommended that the federal government recoup the federal share of these enhanced payments. The State of Alabama continues to dispute the report's findings.

"I am deeply concerned with the impact this dispute could have on the citizens of Alabama," said Shelby. "I hope the Administration will increase their efforts to reach a compromise with the State of Alabama so we may prevent the loss of necessary health care services for Alabama's needy citizens."

A copy of Senator Shelby's letter is attached.

Dear Administrator Scully,

Despite the recent approval of Alabama's supplemental Medicaid grant, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of progress being made towards an ultimate resolution of the outstanding dispute between the State and CMS which began when the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General released a report on Alabama's Medicaid program in May of 2001. Since the Medicaid program in Alabama is the sole source of healthcare for 700,000 of our most vulnerable constituents, we urge you and your agency to intensify efforts at reaching an expeditious and lasting compromise.

While it is our understanding that a temporary increase in Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments will bring short-term relief to Alabama beginning this fall, it does not solve the underlying dispute between the State and CMS. We are concerned that this temporary relief will draw attention from the underlying dispute which will once again resurface when the increased DSH payments expire in 2004.

We believe that Medicaid beneficiaries in our state should not have to worry whether Medicaid will be there for them in the future. Therefore, we strongly urge you to increase your efforts to negotiate a prompt and permanent compromise with Alabama Medicaid.

In order to keep abreast of CMS' actions, we would like a response to this letter. Thank you in advance for your attention to this issue that is of great importance to us and our constituents.

Sincerely,

Richard Shelby