D.C. Child and Family Services Agency faces $10M budget hole

By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 8, 2010; 2:56 PM

The D.C. Child and Family Services Agency is facing a budget hole of as much as $10 million after it failed to meet a Jan. 1 deadline to resume billing Medicaid for many of the services that the agency delivers, according to people familiar with the agency's problems.

CFSA had stopped seeking Medicaid reimbursements because the agency was mishandling millions of dollars in claims, but CFSA managers were supposed to have solved the problems by the end of 2009 and reopened a critical pipeline of federal money.

Instead, the agency's efforts have stalled at a time when local tax revenues are falling and demand for social services is rising.

In an e-mail Friday afternoon to CFSA staff, Director Roque Gerald said new guidelines from the federal government had delayed the agency's timetable for resuming claims to Medicaid.

The agency-wide message appeared intended to pre-empt news inquiries about the agency's troubles. "[Y]ou should anticipate extensive media attention to this issue from a range of viewpoints. I want you to hear our perspective from me first . . . ." Gerald said.

The overwhelming majority of children in the child welfare system are eligible to have some of their services covered by Medicaid, the federal-local health insurance program for the poor. But the District government, and in particular CFSA, has struggled to recoup the city's share of Medicaid dollars.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company