Senate Chairman Pledges Further Reviews of Private Option
Senator Bryan B. King of Green Forest, the chairman of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee’s Medicaid Subcommittee, said Friday that he intended to look more deeply into the problem of potentially thousands of ineligible recipients receiving Medicaid benefits.
“Quite a few of my colleagues have urged me to renew my inquiries, so there is definitely legislative support for a more thorough review of Medicaid’s verification process,” King said.
“When you consider the tremendous cost to taxpayers of a typical Medicaid service, it’s imperative that we determine the extent of payments made for invalid claims submitted for ineligible recipients,” King said.
King’s discussions with other legislators were prompted by this week’s release of the findings of the Stephen Group. The consulting firm has a contract with the Health Reform Legislative Task Force that is working on recommendations to bring to the full legislature for an overhaul of the Medicaid system.
The Stephen Group’s final report revealed that more than 42,000 people on Arkansas Medicaid rolls actually have addresses out of state. More than 6,700 have no record of living in Arkansas. Their study revealed that 367 Medicaid recipients were dead, and 261 had been dead for more than two years. Also, 128 enrollees in the private option were dead before being authorized, and of those 82 had been dead for more than two years. (page 183 of the report).
King said that his concerns were twofold. First, the cost to taxpayers is likely in the millions of dollars. Secondly, he wants to know whether employees at the Department of Human Services (DHS) were entirely forthcoming with auditors two years ago. As a former Senate chairman of the Joint Auditing Committee he was instrumental in ordering an audit of Medicaid expansion. Auditors asked DHS officials about the methods they used to determine eligibility and medical need.
The committee ordered its audit in November, 2013, and auditors released their findings on January 29 and 30, 2014.
“The Audit Committee likely would have taken stronger actions last year, and saved taxpayers millions of dollars, if legislative auditors had known that thousands of recipients were deemed eligible, although they had out-of-state addresses or had been deceased for months,” King said.