Thousands of low-income seniors and disabled people have been denied Medicare benefits because of a computer glitch, and California's Department of Health Services has failed to solve the problem, according to a coalition of consumer advocates who plan to file a lawsuit today. The coalition, led by the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, will file a class-action lawsuit against the department in San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of four plaintiffs from San Mateo and Alameda counties. Meanwhile, advocates estimate that thousands of beneficiaries throughout 18 counties could be affected.
The computer system in question, CalWIN, was collectively purchased by 18 counties for $744 million. It was first implemented in 2005 and rolled out county by county. Problems didn't come to light, Rodgers said, until 2006, when consumer advocate groups began receiving word that qualified Medicare beneficiaries were being billed for Medicare premiums that, in some cases, exceeded fixed monthly incomes.
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