County OKs deal to pursue funds

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County supervisors recently approved a contract with two law firms to pursue recovery of past Medicaid “overburden” reimbursement payments the state has owed the county for years.

Officials recently said the money owed Fulton County could exceed $300,000.

The board last week at the County Office Building authorized Chairman William Waldron to sign a contract retainer agreement with Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna LLP of Albany and Nancy Rose Stormer of Utica to conduct legal action against the state.

The county is trying to obtain delinquent Medicaid reimbursements, also known as “overburden” payments.

Supervisors said the contract was structured so there will be no direct cost to the county for legal services. The law firms will be paid a 36 percent contingency fee based upon all recoveries.

Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna attorney Christopher Buckey recently told supervisors that his firm only seeks money for upstate counties. But he said the state owes all counties in the state expenses for certain mentally-disabled patients. He said the state maintains records and sends quarterly reports to counties.

During the 1990s, Buckey said many of the patients’ names suddenly started getting dropped from reports and the state stopped reimbursement to counties. He said his firm and the Stormer firm have teamed up to recover money due to several counties. He estimated Fulton County might be owed more than $300,000.

Buckey said claims are submitted to the state Department of Health, but the entire process involves extensive litigation. He said the legal firms have won all 30 trials they’ve been involved in and recovered $20 million for nine counties. He said the state estimates it may still owe counties about $180 million, although the lawyers claim it may be a higher amount.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at