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Wisconsin may have to give back $67-million in federal medicaid money

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)   A recent audit says Wisconsin might have to give back up to $67-million in federal funding, for excessive billings to Medicaid for a youth psychiatric program. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the state hired the consulting firm of Maximus in 2004, to make sure it was getting the maximum federal Medicaid reimbursements to help run the Health Check psychiatric program. Instead of giving Maximus a flat fee, it paid the firm according to the amount of federal dollars the state was able to lure. Taxpayers shelled out almost three-and-a-half million dollars for those fees from 2004-to-'09.

Now a federal audit questions a $67-million increase in what Wisconsin got from Washington. State Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades said the state shouldn't have to pay anything back, because it acted properly in receiving the money. The department says it's still waiting for a federal order on a payback. Legislative audit committee co-chair Rob Cowles expects an order to pay at least something back.

The Green Bay Republican said he hoped the state could somehow recoup whatever it has to pay back, and avoid such incentive arrangements in the future. As Cowles put it -- "When I hear stuff like this, I do a slow burn."