Thursday, August 03, 2006

Federal Magistrate Orders Roob To Restore Benefits

It was thought that a settlement of a federal class action lawsuit against FSSA earlier this year for illegally ending Medicaid benefits for about 10,000 Hoosiers had been resolved, but it turns out that the agency hadn't gotten around to restoring benefits to about 1,500 blind, elderly and disabled Medicaid recipients. Federal Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence was not happy with Roob and his agency according to the AP. He ordered the agency to promptly review the cases. The AP writes:

A judge criticized state officials for not restoring benefits to about 1,500 people who were among more than 10,000 blind, elderly and disabled Medicaid recipients whose payments the state agreed to reinstate.

Federal Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence ordered Indiana Family and Social Services Administration officials on Wednesday to review the cases.

"Even if they are remotely relevant, I want them included in the process," Lawrence said . . .

Lawrence told FSSA officials Wednesday that he was "particularly disappointed" that the state wasn't living up to the spirit of the settlement requiring it to restore benefits to "all" those who were cut off from the program.

The problems occurred after the FSSA automated much of the program in response to a 2003 lawsuit. The new process went online Jan. 1.

Testimony showed officials did not intend to review the cases of 1,499 people who lost their benefits. FSSA officials said those individuals most likely were cut off for legitimate reasons, but they could not say that with certainty.

Lawrence ordered FSSA officials to review the cases.

The task of explaining Roob's poor management fell once again to FSSA spokesman Dennis Roseborough. The AP says he told them "that benefits have been restored to about 88 percent of the more than 10,000 recipients since a June 26 settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit filed by six Medicaid recipients." "We felt that in the relatively short period of time, given the complexity, that in terms of compliance we had done a really significant job. This is not a simple push-one-button process," Rosebrough said.

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