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State cancels contract with SynCare

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Last edited 1:20 p.m., Sept. 1, 2011

Missouri today canceled its $5.5 million contract with Indianapolis-based SynCare LLC, which has come under criticism for its handling of the state's in-home Medicaid clients.

The move comes just three months after legislation gave assessment responsibilities to SynCare. The company became the third-party assessor for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on May 19.

Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, today was attending a news conference hosted by home health care provider Oxford HealthCare about the problems with SynCare, when he learned in a phone call from his Jefferson City office that the contract had been nullified.

“My office has been on the phone with DHSS pretty frequently for the last three to four weeks about this issue,” Wasson said. “There have been so many complaints and so many problems – it was obvious to me that SynCare was simply not prepared to handle the bulk of this work.

“The assessments weren’t getting done and once the assessments were done the services were not being delivered in a timely fashion. There were some real communication problems. I don’t know if they just didn’t have enough people – I just don’t know,” Wasson added.

He said in his talks with DHSS, the department wanted to give the company enough time to “ramp up” its work force and address the issues. Things weren’t getting better, Wasson said, so a move was made.

Wasson said he appreciates that the state was trying to save money by hiring SynCare and keeping providers from doing the original face-to-face assessments with patients, but a change had to be made because the company was simply not living up to its obligations.

Calls to SynCare president and CEO Stephanie DeKemper were not returned by deadline. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that SynCare recently laid off 29 workers in its Ballwin office, which services Missouri clients.

On Aug. 30, Missouri home care advocates held news conferences in four cities to call on legislators to remove SynCare as the organization that determines whether some 53,000 Medicaid recipients can receive health care in the home for services such as bathing, meal preparation and house cleaning.

In Springfield, the Southwest Center for Independent Living, an organization that helps disabled individuals find the care they need to live on their own, hosted one of the four news conferences.

Shelby Butler, access coordinator for SCIL, said SynCare has consistently not met its obligations to its clients who are seeking access to care in the home or changes in their Medicaid services.

“There are many people out there that are in need of home and community-based services,” Butler said. “Many of them have had to wait long periods of time and a lot of that is while people are at risk of going into a nursing home. And many people are sitting in nursing homes waiting to get out.”[[In-content Ad]]

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