Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2007

State Medicaid error rate highest in nation

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ANCHORAGE - More than 40 percent of Medicaid payments in Alaska contained an error, according to an audit by the state Department of Health and Social Services.

The state reviewed a sampling of 300 Medicaid payments and found an error rate of 43 percent, which amounted to about $200,000. It's a trend that could cost Alaska millions if a federal review next year shows similar findings and forces the state to repay federal matching funds.

Among the mistakes were duplicate claims, incomplete documentation, payment for services not covered by the system and coding errors.

Alaska's error rate was the worst among trial audits of Medicaid systems around the nation, according to preliminary findings by the American Public Human Services Association, an industry group in Washington, D.C.

Alaska health officials said that if the state's error rate remains high, Alaska could be in trouble once the federal audit begins in spring 2008 and millions of claims are reviewed.

Court sides with men over Admiralty lodge

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The Wyoming Supreme Court on Friday upheld a $3 million jury award to three Wyoming men who filed a lawsuit claiming that another man backed out of a deal to sell them a fishing lodge on Admiralty Island.

Marvin N. Applequist, Val B. Jones and Bruce F. Reed, all of Wyoming, sued Alan J. Veys of Juneau in Converse County District Court last year. The suit charged that Veys and companies he controlled broke an agreement to sell the Pybus Point Lodge for more than $2.6 million.

Friday's court ruling states that Veys began experiencing seller's remorse shortly after agreeing to the sale. Veys' lawyers wrote to the buyers in September 2004 stating that they didn't have an enforceable agreement, prompting the buyers to sue.

The lodge is known as one of the premier fishing destinations in Southeast Alaska.

"During the trial, Mr. Veys unexpectedly admitted the parties had entered into an agreement," the Supreme Court ruling states. "The jury determined the parties had entered into an enforceable contract; the sellers breached the contract."

The jury determined that the buyers were entitled to past damages of $471,676 and future damages of just over $2.5 million.

Diane Smith, an Englewood, Colo., lawyer, represented Veys.

"Obviously we're disappointed," Smith said Friday.

She said there's no chance of an appeal because the ruling addresses questions of state law on which the state Supreme Court is the last word.

Veys and the companies named in the lawsuit, Lone Eagle Properties and Alan J. Veys Properties, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Western District of Washington last year. Albert N. Kennedy, a Portland, Ore., lawyer, represents Veys in the bankruptcy proceeding.

Kennedy said Friday that Veys intends to pay the Wyoming men and keep ownership of the fishing lodge.

House passes bill OKing PFD donations

JUNEAU - The House unanimously passed a bill Monday enabling residents to donate money to charities through their permanent dund dividend check.

This means online applications would feature a list of approved organizations who could receive a portion of the dividend.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Haines.

"I think this will prove to be an excellent mechanism for providing much-needed support to worthwhile organizations," Thomas said.

"By presenting the opportunity to share with others at the time a person is filling out their PFD application, I expect to see a significant bump in charitable giving in Alaska," he said.

The bill has been referred to the Senate for review.

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