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Hearings Officer Berates State Medicaid Office

Doctor with Stethascope
Photo Credit – Sean Prior

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The director of the state health department says his office needs to make some improvements after a hearings officer chastised the agency over the handling of a Missoula family’s case.

Missoula electrician Bill Fister tells Lee Newspapers of Montana that he had to hire an attorney to help straighten out his parents’ eligibility for Medicaid to help pay for their Alzheimer’s care.

Hearings officer Bridgitt Erickson found the Department of Public Health and Human Services used its “frequently dysfunctional” computer system as an excuse for miscalculating the family’s benefits. She also said the agency tried to deceive the family into giving up its right to a hearing.

Agency Director Richard Opper says the department will better train staffers on how to handle such cases and make the Medicaid eligibility system more “user-friendly.”

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