LLA report: Dept. of Health may have misspent $85 million in Medicaid funds

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KNOE) - A new audit says Louisiana's health department may have paid as much as $85 million over 20 months for Medicaid enrollees who didn't qualify for coverage.

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office released the audit Tuesday.

Auditors found problems with the department's use of wage data to determine eligibility for people enrolled in Louisiana's Medicaid expansion program.

The report says the department relies on Medicaid recipients to self-report changes in their paychecks in the 12-month period between application for Medicaid and renewal of coverage. Auditors suggested more frequent checks of available state wage data.

"It's not our belief that the money was misspent," Medicaid Director Jen Steele said. "Again, under our current policy within the system we had at the time, those were appropriate decisions and appropriate payments. However, today we launched, after three years of development, a brand new eligibility system that will change the way that we work and allow us to do more frequent checks as recommended."

Click here to read their full statement.

The report also has some lawmakers speaking out.

Senator John Kennedy released a statement saying, “It’s no small wonder that Gov. Edwards keeps raising taxes on Louisiana families. His Department of Health (LDH) is lazy and incompetent. It’s Common Sense 101. You need to check a person’s income if they’re on the Medicaid rolls. It’s the same story every time LDH gets caught not doing its job. They assure us they’ll do better and recover money, but it’s always empty promises. Taxpayers deserve better.”

Congressman Ralph Abraham also responded today. He said, "this report is another sign that Gov. Edwards has no interest in actually making the Medicaid program work properly; he only cares about how many people he can put on the government healthcare rolls, regardless of whether they’re even eligible for the program. Louisianians deserve better than him wasting tens of millions of their hard-earned tax dollars on these improper payments, especially since the Governor has raised their taxes to help foot the bill.”

A second report is expected to be released later in November, detailing the entire Medicaid Expansion process.



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