News Briefs: Caccaviello joins ballot for DA; MassHealth overpaying for drug tests, screens; ‘Listen to Us John Faso’ pollMore Info
Caccaviello joins ballot for district attorney
Pittsfield — Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello announced today that he submitted the necessary amount of signatures required to place him on the ballot for election as Berkshire district attorney.
“I am very thankful to my family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and community members for all of their help during this process of the campaign – all of the people who know me and know the work of the District Attorney’s office,”Caccaviello said in a statement. “They all volunteered their time and energy in a real grass roots effort to gather the required number of signatures. For me, personally, it was a pleasure to meet people face to face, have conversations, and learn as much about them and the issues as they did about me.”
Caccaviello went on to add that he looks forward to traveling and meeting the residents of Berkshire County in the coming months to discuss his vision and listen to voters’ thoughts about the role they see the district attorney’s office playing in the future.
Caccaviello was sworn in as Berkshire district attorney March 15 after serving as first assistant district attorney under former Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless, who announced his resignation at the beginning of March. The primary election for the Democratic Party is Tuesday, Sept. 4.
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Audit shows MassHealth overpaying for drug tests, screens
Boston — State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump Thursday released an audit examining MassHealth payments for drug tests and screens. The audit found that, over the nearly four year audit period, MassHealth overpaid claims for those services by as much as $4.38 million. The majority of the improper payments were a result of a practice known as “unbundling,” in which providers bill MassHealth for multiple procedures individually rather than billing in a comprehensive manner. Sixty-seven percent of “unbundled” claims found by Bump’s audit involved multiple providers submitting claims for drug screens and drug tests for the same member on the same day. The audit notes that the remaining amount was a result of MassHealth paying for duplicate drug test services totaling approximately $198,000.
“This audit shows that measures taken by MassHealth have not fully addressed problems related to drug screening and testing. More work is needed to stop additional money from being wasted,” Bump said. “MassHealth needs to take stronger measures to stop drug labs from ripping off taxpayers.”
MassHealth pointed to staff resources as one factor preventing it from addressing some of the improper payments identified in a timely manner. Its payment system flags claims that it suspects are “unbundled” but does not prevent or delay the payment. The agency then relied on staff to investigate those claims to determine whether they were improper and recoup money as appropriate. However, the agency noted that it often lacked the resources to do this research, which allowed the improper payments to go unchecked. In an effort to address this issue, MassHealth made changes to its claim payment system to deny these claims. However further examination by Bump’s office shows these changes have not fully addressed this problem. MassHealth continued to pay nearly half-a-million dollars for these improper claims in the first half of 2017 after it stated that this change was implemented.
In fiscal year 2017, MassHealth paid healthcare providers $15.3 billion for services for approximately 1.9 million low- and moderate-income individuals. MassHealth is the state’s largest program and accounts for approximately 39 percent of the state budget.
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“Listen to Us, John Faso” releases poll of Democratic NY-19 candidates
New York — Listen to Us, John Faso — an online group of over 2,00 people who oppose the Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, and the policies of the Republican Party — has released the results of a poll gauging interest in the Democratic candidates for the 19thCongressional District seat.
The poll was conducted online and open only to members of the group. Out of the group’s 2,200 members, 203 took the poll, which was open for a period of four days ending April 19. Responses were tracked to confirm that only members responded and that each member responded only once. The results of the poll remained consistent as the sample size increased from 3 percent at the start of the poll to just under 10 percent at the close of the poll.
Each poll participant was asked to rank the candidates from 1 to 7, with 1 being the candidate they most preferred and 7 being least preferred. Gareth Rhodes emerged as the candidate with the best average result and the highest number of “most preferred” votes with an average of 2.4 and received 73 first-place votes. David Clegg finished second in average with 3.3, Brian Flynn finished second in number of first-place votes with 37, Jeff Beals received the most “least preferred” votes with 76, and Erin Collier received the lowest average ranking at 5.5.