The Director of the McLean County Health Department is trying to reassure County Board members that funding for drug court will not be jeopardized next budget year. Last week the department agreed to fund drug court at the same level as last year. Now the health board has approved spending less direct money than was talked about earlier. Health Department Director Walt Howe says the difference is that they want service provider Chestnut Health Systems to try billing Medicaid for the service first and then asking the county for payment.
Howe says the amount of overall money for drug court counselling will be held harmless from last year. Howe says he believes new Medicaid rules mean the county will have to pay less. Howe says it is a distinction WITH a difference for taxpayers.
There were earlier concerns that Medicaid recovery might fall short of estimates. If drug court participation increases and the allocated money runs out, Howe acknowledges the County Board might have to revisit the question. But, he says he believes that billing Medicaid first will reduce the local draw on funding.
Alan Sender of Chestnut says a change in billing arrangements will not affect the timing of services delivered to drug court clients.