State may delay Quest payments to save money - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State may delay Quest payments to save money

Dr. Kenneth Fink Dr. Kenneth Fink
Gregory Greene Gregory Greene

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "We don't have enough revenue to match our expenditures, so we have a shortfall," said Dr. Kenneth Fink, administrator of the state's Med-QUEST insurance plan.

That news has health insurance companies, care providers and patients concerned over the state's money crunch that's affecting payments for Quest which covers low-income families.

"As an entitlement program we have to cover everybody who is eligible," Fink said. "With an unprecedented 13 percent increase in enrollment, that was an expenditure that was not anticipated."

The Dept. of Human Services projects an $84 million shortfall through the current fiscal year that ends in June.

The state wants to delay paying insurance companies like HMSA, Kaiser, Aloha Care and others who provide Quest coverage for two or maybe three months, then make up the payments in the next fiscal year. It would save the state $30 million a month.

But the idea worries providers and patients.

"Some of the smaller providers, a month of no cash flow could cause them to not make payroll, not be able to buy supplies, some of them might have to close their doors, or at the very least might have to shut down some of the services they provide," Healthcare Association of Hawaii president Gregory Greene said.

Nino Camilo said if the state delays payments, the impact will trickle down to his adult foster home where he cares for three elderly clients..

"We cannot just throw them out of our house," he said. "I think that the state understands this and DHS understands this so they're taking advantage of us."

"To suggest that the providers won't get paid, I don't believe there's any evidence to support that," Fink said.

But many who attended Thursday's informational briefing at the state Capitol fear that will happen even though the state says it won't.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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