Firm says caregivers receiving payments

February 3, 2013

More than a month after Boston-based Public Partnerships LLC took over payroll processing of providers of home and community-based assistance in Pennsylvania, the company said it has paid more than 90 percent of the workers it owes money, but some are still waiting on paychecks.

Public Partnerships was awarded a state contract to process payroll for Medicaid recipients who receive in-home or community-based care, beginning Jan. 1. Under the Medicaid waiver system, the Medicaid recipient acts as an employer for their caregivers, setting wages, hours and signing time sheets for their employees, but payroll is handled through the company.

The company assumed control of services formerly handled by 37 agencies around the state, and attributed the delay in paying some caregivers on incomplete or inaccurate data provided by the former agencies.

According to the state Department of Welfare, 91 percent of all timesheets it has received since Jan. 1 have been processed. The department also said it would contact the 1,800 individuals affected by the transition from the old providers by last Friday, alerting them as to when and how they would receive payment.

Public Partnerships spokeswoman Dina Baker said those figures also include paysheets received this week, which are being processed, and that 95 percent of overdue paysheets have been paid out.

Welfare Department spokeswoman Donna Morgan said Public Partnerships is working to resolve the outstanding timesheets as quickly as possible, but also said the payment figures would probably never reach 100 percent due to errors in filling out timesheets and timesheets submitted for work that is not reimbursable.

Two issues have been largely responsible for the remaining holdups, Morgan said. First, some timesheets were incorrectly submitted or lack necessary data. Their timesheets have to be filled out properly to use tax dollars, Morgan said.

Second, some timesheets submitted for work done in December might have overbilled Public Partnerships. The company splits caregivers into two groups of workers receiving pay every two weeks. It issues pay to each group on alternating weekends.

In the group that transitioned from an old service provider to Public Partnerships, some people incorrectly submitted timesheets only to Public Partnerships for both weeks instead of submitting a timesheet for the first week to the former provider and a timesheet to Public Partnerships for the second week.

In a strongly worded letter to the former processors sent Jan. 31, Public Welfare Deputy Secretary Bonnie L. Rose demanded former providers issue all payments owed by noon Tuesday.

Through emails, meetings, and other discussions with these providers, DPW communicated that it was the previous providers' responsibility to close out these workers and pay them for all hours worked before they were transitioned to PPL, Rose wrote. … In many cases, this expectation was met, but in others it was not.

We cannot accept that direct care workers have been subjected to unnecessary and disruptive payment delays, Rose continued.

Diana Morris Smaglik, marketing director for one of the former service providing agencies – Anthracite Region for Independent Living in Hazleton – said her company has submitted the information Public Partnerships requested and paid employees on time.

She also took issue with Public Partnerships placing blame for the late payments on the former service companies. PPL has enjoyed telling people that the former service providers have not cooperated, and it makes us look bad because we really did do what we were supposed to, Smaglik said.

Smaglik also said some Medicaid recipients never received the timesheets they needed to submit for reimbursement, and that some caregiver and Medicaid recipient information had been unintentionally released by Public Partnerships to the wrong people.

Public Partnerships did in November send packets containing personal information to the wrong addresses, said Baker, due to inaccuracies in data that resulted in pairing the wrong care workers with the wrong Medicaid recipients or the wrong addresses.

The problem affected a very limited number of individuals, she said, and was quickly corrected. The company is also paying for one year of credit monitoring for those impacted. The moment we became aware of it, we stopped it; we recouped everything and we provided free credit-monitoring services, Baker said.

Smaglik, however, said she has heard from Medicaid recipients at her community-based care center as recently as last week who had received the wrong information, and that one patient at the center had her personal information sent to 94 different individuals.

We have some consumers whose attendants have received the wrong information two and three times, Smaglik said. I don't think anyone's doing it deliberately. I just think there's so many people, so many names, so much information.

She said the late pay and privacy issues have had an impact on both Medicaid recipients and their caregivers.

To do it in such a short period of time, the state put an incredible burden on a lot of people, Smaglik said. We are having customers who have suffered emotional stress because of this. We have had them lose … care workers who say, ‘I'm going to lose my house, lose my car if I continue to work for you,' and it's very hard to find qualified care professionals.