Molokai Psychiatrist Faces Troubles
By Sonia G. Patel, M.D.
This letter was submitted to Governor Linda Lingle and Aloha Care.
I am a graduate of Molokai High School, and am currently a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist serving Oahu and Molokai. I travel to Molokai once a month to provide outpatient child, adolescent, and adult psychiatric care to the residents in need. I accept all insurances, including HMSA quest, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. I have been accepting Aloha Care as well.
On numerous occasions, I have been denied payment by Aloha Care on patients I have treated because, according to some Aloha Care remittance advice paperwork, I have not turned in prior authorizations. However, this has not been the case; I turn in prior authorizations and treatment plans and I have the copies in my patient charts to prove it. I have re-faxed some prior authorizations and treatment plans to Aloha Care up to three times. I am no longer willing to do this. I provide quality care to my patients, and I will not accept this type of treatment from Aloha Care any longer. Furthermore, I fly to Molokai once a month to provide care to patients. To my knowledge, I am the only board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist who flies here to provide care. I have advocated for Aloha Care patients to be seen on Molokai and to stop flying to Oahu to see me. This has saved Aloha Care money. I lose money when I go to Molokai to work, because I have to pay for my own airfare, taxi, and office space rent. I do not complain about the poor reimbursement Aloha Care provides, I gladly accept it in order to provide care to Molokai patients.
However, it is not acceptable to receive no payment from Aloha Care at all. My decision to stop accepting Aloha Care will affect the people of Molokai, but this is not on my conscience. This is on the conscience of Aloha Care. I would reconsider becoming an Aloha Care provider if I am no longer required to submit preauthorizations or treatment plans for patients and I get paid for all the outstanding claims that have been denied; I will need the aforementioned in writing. The people of Molokai are awaiting their decision.