MEDICARE: Possible Y2K Glitch Delays Payments
A computer glitch, potentially Y2K-related, at the Highland Community Bank in Chicago, has "temporarily interrupted electronic Medicare payments to hospitals and other health care providers in at least eight states this week, forcing insurance contractors to send diskettes containing processed claims to the bank by courier so that the payments could be made," the Washington Post reports. Although the computers had been examined at least twice by state and federal banking regulators and had a "satisfactory" Y2K compliance rating, the bank discovered on Monday that its computers would not accept electronic files of processed claims submitted by insurance companies. Gary Christoph, chief information officer for HCFA, said that the problem had been fixed after a technician installed an updated version of the program. Christoph said that although the glitch added "an extra day or so" to the time of Medicare reimbursements, the payments were being made well within the two weeks allowed. California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, North Carolina, New York, Idaho and Alaska were affected. Christoph did not specify how much money had been delayed, but said "significant amounts" were involved. State and federal examiners were at the bank yesterday to investigate the problem and determine whether it was Y2K-related. Scott Clarke, assistant commissioner of the Illinois Office of Banks and Real Estate, said the problem could have been caused if the electronic data transfer software license expired at midnight on Dec. 31, which would make the computers incapable of receiving the processed claims (Claiborne, 1/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.