Unless it gets a little monetary help from the Legislature, Utah County could get stuck with paying back about $1.7 million in Medicaid funding allegedly misused in 1986 and 1987 by Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center administrators.

County commissioners and Timp Mental Health Director Don Muller were expected to meet on Thursday with local legislators discuss the payback.Muller said the State Department of Health's Division of Health Care Financing, which administers Medicaid funding, recently issued reports indicating that about half the $3.5 million allegedly misused by former Timp administrators came from Medicaid. Three of those former officials have been charged with 117 related criminal counts.

The county has until March 15 to respond to the reports. Commissioner Malcolm Beck said county officials believe Medicaid is owed less money and are gathering information to document that position.

"We're hoping some kind of strategy can be developed," Muller said of Thursday's meeting with legislators. "I don't know what the solution should be, but we need their assistance and help in deciding what to do."

Beck said the county could be in financial trouble if it gets no monetary help from the Legislature.

The Timp Mental Health Authority Board - comprising commissioners from Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties - will have 60 days to repay misused Medicaid funding once officials rule exactly how much is owed. Muller said the State Department of Social Services will pressure the authority board for payment within the 60-day period to avoid losing further Medicaid funding for mental health programs.

"We would have to shut down everything" if the $1.7 million figure stands and no help comes from the Legislature, Beck said of county mental health programs. "It's a sticky issue."