- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - An agency that serves people with developmental disabilities has taken steps to prevent the kind of billing errors that could force Nebraska to repay millions of dollars to the federal government, a state administrator said Wednesday.

Courtney Miller, the state’s developmental disabilities division director, told lawmakers that the division has hired a person to ensure it stays in compliance with federal rules. The new position was created last month.

Miller’s comments came under questioning from a legislative committee. The Department of Health and Human Services announced last month that payment errors made under a previous administration could cost the state as much as $32 million because it didn’t adhere to federal requirements. The department has said it is negotiating with federal officials and is likely to end up owing less.

“The $32 million is the universe of claims that we have to dive into to review,” Miller told the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.

The services in question benefit people with developmental disabilities who would otherwise be in institutions, nursing homes or hospitals. The department said it discovered the errors while working with federal officials on issues related to how service providers are paid.

State officials say the department mistakenly allowed providers to collect additional pay for services beyond the 35 hours a week permitted by the federal Medicaid program. The services include job coaching and transportation.

Miller said she hopes to have all of the claims reviewed by the end of March 2017. Private groups that contract with the state to serve people with disabilities are likely to see funding cuts, she said, but the exact impact on all of them isn’t yet known.

A lobbyist for the nonprofit group Mosaic told lawmakers Wednesday that his organization expects to see at least a $400,000 reduction in funding between October and January. People who provide a home for the group’s clients will see an estimated $424 monthly cut in their reimbursement, and some could see reductions of more than $1,000, said Mark Matulka, the group’s vice president for government relations.

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