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Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration begins overhaul of billing system

Following highly critical state and federal audits of billing practices that go back years, the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration released a report Friday outlining how it will revamp its billing system.

The state General Assembly ordered the agency, part of the state Department of Health, to develop and implement a new system to distribute federal and state funds during the legislative session in 2014. The resulting report represents the first attempt to overhaul the rate structure in at least two decades, the agency said.

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The agency said the new system will establish a more equitable and efficient payment system for providers of services to thousands of Marylanders with developmental disabilities. The agency provides housing, employment and other services.

For years, the state agency that oversees people with disabilities erroneously charged monthly fees to largely poor people who live in residential facilities. And they might never get any of the millions of dollars back.

The report has been underway for two years and was produced by Johnston, Villegas-Grubbs and Associates, a consulting firm that helps state and county governments fix problems in their developmental disability and mental health programs.

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Agency officials say the new system will mean providers receive the same payment for the same services and individuals will be able to more easily relocate without losing funding. The agency also said the system will increase provider accountability.

Maryland is about to become the latest state to offer special savings accounts for people with disabilities, so they can work and save money -- or their families can set aside money -- without jeopardizing their benefits such as Medicaid.

The agency will hold a series of town hall meetings this month to collect feedback on the report.

Other efforts to transform the agency to make it more flexible and responsive have also been underway, Bernard Simons, the agency’s deputy secretary, said in a statement.

“We are committed to providing increased opportunities for individuals with disabilities to live full lives as active citizens in the communities of their choice,” he said.

The agency plans to implement the new rate structure in July 2019.

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