5300 More Ineligible People May Have Received MaineCare Benefits 

The number of Mainers who may have recived MaineCare benefits they weren’t entitled to continues to grow. A computer glitch at the Department of Health and Human Services is at the root of the problem.Back on March 9th DHHS Comissioner Mary Mayhew told lawmakers about 19,000 people could have received benefits who shouldn’t have. Now a working group has discovered another 5300 may have also received benefits that were not eligible to do so between January and March of this year. “We are looking at and evaluating any claims that may have been submitted relating to those additional 5300 cases,” Mayhew said Thursday. “It will take some time to ascertain exactly how much money was paid out on these claims.”The problem arose back in 2010 when new computer software began being used. The MaineCare program currently relies on two computers, one determines a person’s eligibility, the other deactivates the cards of those who are no longer eligible. Those two computers were not properly communicating with each other, so people deemed ineligible never had their MaineCare cards deactivated. Mayhew says they’re still in the process of trying to determine how many of those ineligible cards were actually used for benefits and what the total cost of the mistake is.Meanwhile Democrats have accused Mayhew and the LePage administration of intentionally withholding information from them while they were working to pass a budget that booted thousands of people off of the MaineCare rolls. Democrats are demanding an investigation by the The Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability (OPEGA). “There’s some question as to who knew what when,” Freeport Democrat David Webster said. “The fact that we passed a budget and cut many people off of MaineCare when in fact they knew that there was a computer problem giving them false numbers and false inflated costs is a problem.”The group working to fix the problem is expected to brief lawmakers Friday.Mayhew says she hopes to have the total cost of the computer problem to lawmakers by the end of this month.