A computer glitch that extended MaineCare coverage to ineligible recipients could complicate the state's efforts to balance its budget. Gov. Paul LePage and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew told legislators about the error yesterday.
Mayhew said the problem stemmed from an error between two computer systems, so that people who were no longer eligible to receive benefits were not removed from the billing system, according to Capitol News Service. At least 19,000 Mainers received errant benefits. Staff at DHHS knew about the problem since 2010 but Mayhew did not learn of it until January, according to the news service. It's unclear how long ineligible people received benefits.
The error could affect budget talks, as lawmakers work to address a $90 million hole in the DHHS budget for fiscal year 2013. Mayhew said analyzing the department's computer systems to address the problem could lead to additional costs this budget year, but expenses should drop the next budget year as ineligible people are removed from the system. Lawmakers have already approved an emergency bill to address a $120 million shortfall for the budget year that ends June 30. The legislative session could also be extended past April because of the error, according to the news service.