Agency to recoup some program expenses

Published 1:04 am Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Beaufort County Health Department, because of changes related to fees associated with pregnancy-related programs it provides, will be able to seek reimbursement for costs associated with those programs.

The matter was discussed and approved at the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners meeting April 1.

“They’ve allowed some increases and put some things on here that the health department can get reimbursed for. One is the completion of  (a) pregnancy-risk screening form. They can get $50 for that, and also for (a) postpartum clinic visit by a mother. They can bill Medicaid $150 for that,” said Commissioner Robert Belcher, a member of the Beaufort County Board of Health.

Commissioner Hood Richardson, also a health-board member, weighed in on the issue.

“Normally, I would say put this off until budget time, but this is something that the state has come down with and said, ‘You can bill for this and you can get paid for it.’ They’re going to let them go back four years to bill,” he said. “There’s probably $20,000 to $25,000 in it, so I would make the motion that we approve this.”

Being able to receive reimbursements for the pregnancy-risk screenings and postpartum clinic visits it has been providing for years will allow the health department to provide more such screenings and visits, said Pam O’Neal, a certified nurse-midwife with the health department, on Monday.

“We’ve been doing these services already. I think it’s just been without reimbursement,” O’Neal said. “It is a very good thing. We had been doing this. I think now were are able to see where we can get reimbursed for it.”

A health-department document provides information on the changes.

“The Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) has been working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) since 2011 to have these codes added for reimbursement approval. The Division of Public Health (DPH) has now instructed health departments to add these codes to their fee schedules. Once approved by CMS, health departments will be able to bill Medicaid for these services dating back to April 1, 2011,” reads the document.

The health department provides several pregnancy-related programs and services, including prenatal care, postpartum/newborn home visits and pregnancy-care management.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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