The Connecticut Department of Children and Families is hiring an outside expert to review insurance companies' denials of mental and behavioral services for children, the Connecticut Mirror reports.

The department spends an estimated $16.4 million on such services, according to the Mirror. The agency has concluded that one in five children have private health insurance that doesn't cover what doctors say is necessary, which means the state must pay the bill. The department currently relies on families to undertake the effort to appeal insurance denials, according to the newspaper.

Other agencies are being pushed to take similar action. Victoria Veltri, the state's health-care advocate, told the Mirror that her office will hire and house the insurance appeals expert. Last year, the office's staff reversed nearly 4,000 denied claims, according to the newspaper.

"Insurance companies are denying care knowing [the client] can get the state to pay the expenses they should be paying," Veltri said. "We know how to shepherd the appeal through the process. It makes sense to send these cases over to us and let us do the work."

Veltri also said that the state Department of Social Services should be reviewing insurance denials. The department supplies Medicaid coverage to more than 500,000 residents, according to the Mirror, and reports show that 11 percent of those receiving benefits also have private insurance. Spokespeople from the Department of Social Services and the Department of Developmental Services told the Mirror that those agencies do not appeal insurance denials.

The insurance appeals expert should fill a much-needed niche. The steps to appeal insurance denials, outlined by the state, are complicated. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is also investigating whether insurance companies are denying claims for services that they should cover, according to the Mirror.