As lawmakers look for ways to fill a $61 million shortfall in the Medicaid budget and weigh the possibility of expanding the program, an audit released Friday afternoon shows the program has paid $1.36 million to individuals ineligible to receive Medicaid since 2009.
House Republican Majority Leader Bruce Westerman says the audit’s results show a broken system.
“I think what concerns me is the fact that we keep having shortfalls in the Medicaid system and then we see that we have structural problems inside the program and there’s a lot of talk about expanding Medicaid, wanting to add more beneficiaries, add more services, yet we have a broken system that needs [to be] fixed. So, it’s what we’ve been saying all along that before we start talking a lot about expansion, we need to fix what’s broken,” Westerman told reporters Friday.
The audit shows that the state Demaortment of Human Services, which administers Medicaid, paid benefits to ineligible recipients at a rate of 15 percent in 2009. In the audit, DHS says it took corrective action. The next two years saw ineligible payment rates in the 3 percent range until last year when they rose to 14 percent. DHS says the audit looked at different data for the last year.
The audit was scheduled for a March release, but Republican lawmakers requested a preliminary report that would have been released last week.
Objections from the Governor and DHS, which oversees Medicaid, pushed its release back.
The Governor’s spokesman Matt DeCample says the report released this week is more in line with standard practices than what would have been released a week earlier.
“We’re still reviewing them. I think he is gratified that the more traditional procedures were followed, that DHS had the chance to sit down with the Bureau and that the result that you see, even though we won’t agree with all of it and I don’t think every administration ever will, it was a productive discussion and we’ve got – I think – a fair representation of the agency,” DeCample said
Click here to go to the audit. It's listed under "Special Reports" which can be found by clicking the "Recent Reports" tab on the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit website.