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State may withhold $161K from social services

JOHNSTOWN — The state may end up withholding about $161,000 from the Fulton County Department of Social Services for 2020, county officials heard recently.

DSS Commissioner Anne Solar told the Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee that outstanding state revenues are still out there related to the 20 percent withhold due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said outstanding revenues were about $13,000 in 2019, but might be as much as $161,000 to DSS with the first COVID year.

“At this point, we have had $45,000 withheld,” Solar said.

Solar also related other state impacts on Fulton County during an informational report. She said the county recently received a final 2019 chargeback bill of $250,117 from the state Office of Children & Family Services for facility per diem costs.

She those are county costs to keep youth in custody — juveniles who previously went to places like the former Tryon Detention Facility in Perth, which was shutdown the last decade.

“The non-community-based residential [custody settings] are the most expensive,” Solar said.

She said the costs for such OCFS custody used to be split 50-50 with the county, but the county has been assuming more costs. She said Fulton County’s responsibility is an $863 per day cost for these youthful offenders. She said the $250,117 bill from the state for 2019 represents half of what was budgeted for in 2021.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead noted that in the past decade, the state has long delays in sending bills out.

“We are closer than before,” Solar said. “It used to be five to six years behind, now it’s about a year. We will always be behind.”

Solar reported the state is considering a longer “look back period” for eligibility for Medicaid community-based long-term care services. She said it is similar to what was done with nursing home care.

“The state is now looking at doing the same thing with long-term care,” Solar said.

The transfer period for long-term care services began last October and will increase monthly until to reaches a full 30 months by April 1, 2023, she said.

The DSS official said eligible assets transferred within the established period are used to set the amount of private pay that must be used before Medicaid begins payment of services. She said consideration of a look back period was expected to begin with April 2021 applications, but that implementation may be delayed. She said this change impacts new applicants and those requesting an increase in coverage.

Solar also reported the DSS Child Support Unit’s “Acknowledgement of Paternity” form to help establish paternity has changed. She said the current form may be signed by two people, including unmarried parents — opposite and same sex couples and married same sex couples. But she said married opposite sex couples are legally assumed to be the child’s parents and use of the acknowledgement form isn’t available to them.

“It’s sort of a sign of the times as far as the department,” Solar said.

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