DECEMBER 9, 2009: MASS. DELEGATION SEEKS RECOVERY OF MORE THAN $150 MILLION IN FUNDS OWED TO STATE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Massachusetts Congressional delegation today sent a letter to Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Michael J. Astrue seeking to recoup an estimated $158 million to $186 million in state Medicaid funds owed to Massachusetts as a result of federal processing errors. These errors also affect states in addition to Massachusetts, as noted in the 2009 Annual Report of the Trustees of the Medicare Trust Funds.

Due to processing errors involving the SSA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the State of Massachusetts erroneously paid an estimated $158 million to $186 million in state Medicaid funds to a subset of Social Security beneficiaries who suffer from disabilities, referred to as the “Special Disability Workload (SDW).”  These individuals should have received Medicare benefits, but due to federal processing errors, they received state Medicaid funds.

 
In light of the current budgetary crisis faced by Massachusetts, recovering the funds owed to the state by Medicare for Medicaid expenditures made on behalf of SDW cases is particularly critical,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

 
Rep. Ed Markey said, “As families all across the Commonwealth are watching every penny in these difficult economic times, it is imperative that we here in Washington do the same. That’s why we are urging Commissioner Astrue to work expeditiously to fix this error so that Massachusetts can receive the more than $150 million in reimbursements that it is due.”

 
Rep. Niki Tsongas said: “The SSA should promptly repay Massachusetts for a federal error that has resulted in state Medicaid expenditures over the past 35 years on a liability that is not theirs. The state has already been forced to make Medicaid cutbacks due to this error, and it is essential that the Commonwealth be appropriately reimbursed in order to protect those who rely on this program every day for their health insurance.”

 
Rep. Barney Frank said: “If it hadn’t been caught, this could have been a very expensive mistake.  These funds should be returned to the Commonwealth immediately.  We’ve had deep budget cuts due to the economic crisis and this money is badly needed here in Massachusetts.”

 
Rep. Richard E. Neal said: “The entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation discussed this issue with Governor Patrick during his recent visit to Washington, and we all agreed that recapturing this money is critically important to the state. The SSA acknowledges federal processing errors, and during these challenging economic times, it is essential that nearly $190 million in Medicaid funds be recovered for the people of Massachusetts who depend on this important program for their medical care.

 
Rep. John F. Tierney said: “Coming to a resolution on this issue is long over-due and, with the state facing continuing revenue shortfalls, this federal funding would mean that critical services for Massachusetts families that depend on them most could be preserved.   During these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever that the relevant federal agencies work together to ensure the Commonwealth is properly reimbursed.”

 
Rep. Stephen F. Lynch said: “I join with my colleagues in urging Commissioner Astrue to repay these funds. Massachusetts is owed more than $150 million from the SSA due to federal processing errors and given the difficult economic climate, this error should be corrected and Massachusetts should be repaid the funds it is owed as quickly as possible.”

 
A full copy of the letter can be found here: http://markey.house.gov/docs/letterssasdw12909.pdf