State gets 10-day stay after attorney botched deadline

June 8, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Superior Court issued a stay Friday of the costly case in which the state missed a deadline because of an attorney who officials say should be prosecuted.

Judge Jeffrey Lanphear issued the 10-day stay Friday, one day after state officials requested a criminal investigation into their attorney’s conduct.

The state is now trying to settle the case, which involves a rate calculation for state Medicaid payments to nursing homes. The judgment could cost the state $24 million through 2019.

Officials with the Office of Health and Human Services said they missed a May 23 deadline to appeal the judgment because their attorney, Gregory Hazian, didn’t notify his bosses about the decision or the deadline. They also learned Hazian was removed from the state’s attorney rolls in January for failing to complete continued education requirements.

It’s illegal to practice law without authorization. Hazian resigned Monday.

The Providence Journal reports Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Beane on Thursday asked the attorney general and the Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel to investigate Hazian and determine whether any law was violated.

WPRI-TV reports Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said Thursday the attorney should be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

WPRI said the governor announced new accountability measures Friday amid the scandal, including routine and random checks of employee who are supposed to hold licenses and certifications.

“Clearly, this has been a very frustrating week,” Raimondo said.

Virginia Burke, the president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, an association of nursing facilities, has argued that the state would have lost the appeal regardless of its attorney’s actions. She said the state violated the law when it calculated the rate of its Medicaid payments to nursing homes.

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