Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ritter Will Cut 331 Jobs to Balance Budget

Gov. Bill Ritter has increased the number of state jobs he will cut in order to balance the budget.

The governor's office disclosed the higher number when it released documents relating to its financial plan Monday.

The Ritter administration had announced last week that the job losses would total 266.

Not all of the job reductions involve layoffs, since the governor's office is counting vacant positions that would be left unfilled.

The budget cuts announced by Ritter in order to close a budget deficit in excess of $200 million this fiscal year include:

• $25 million less for state prisons, including about $19 million saved by speeding up parole for eligible inmates and shortening parole supervision periods;

• a 1.5 percent reduction in the reimbursements paid to health care providers, which will save Colorado $8.6 million;

• elimination of 59 beds for mental health patients at a facility in Fort Logan and closure of a 32-bed facility for developmentally disabled patients in Grand Junction, which would save about $2.3 million; and

• reduction of $4.5 million from a program that gives $200 monthly stipends to disabled people awaiting federal Social Security benefits.

The governor's office also announced Monday that it would delay an effort to cut more than $475,000 from a program that allows some state employees to use publicly-owned vehicles as a means of transportation to and from work.

Suthers Obtains Guilty Pleas in Medicaid Fraud Cases

Attorney general John Suthers announced today that his office has obtained guilty pleas in two Medicaid fraud cases.

Cortney Ileane Miller, 55, pleaded guilty Aug. 14 to forgery. She was sentenced to five years of probation, with conditions to include 100 hours of useful public service and restitution of more than $23,000.

The state alleged that Miller, who worked in an Adams County wheelchair supply company owned in part by her husband, acquired an invoice from a supplier for an expensive power wheelchair and then modified the invoice and included it in support of several bills that she submitted to the Colorado Medicaid program for other clients. Most of the bills were for much less expensive equipment, but Miller claimed the high price supported by the false invoice, plus profit.

In an unrelated case, Michelle Riley, 41, a former co-worker of Miller, pleaded guilty July 24 to theft, a class-four felony, and forgery, a class-five felony. Her convictions arise from charges that she submitted several false Medicaid bills to the state. Riley received five years probation and was ordered to reimburse teh state more than $63,000.

The state alleged that Riley, who is the owner of a Denver-based wheelchair supply company, submitted bills to Medicaid for three wheelchairs which were never supplied to the recipients, and over-billed three other wheelchairs and one power scooter. Riley also allegedly falsified wheelchair repair records to collect for repairs that did not happen.

Riley and Miller had worked together in the past, but their crimes appeared unrelated.