House panel: Medicaid is a $54B mess
New York’s Medicaid system needs audit to study waste, abuse, draft report says
James M. Odato of the Times Union reported on many of the problems identified in “a system that allowed itself to be gamed,” so said one congressman. Here’s his story:
A congressional panel on Tuesday proposed an independent audit of New York’s sprawling Medicaid system to look into waste, abuse and inefficiencies, including the operations of the state Medicaid Inspector General‘s Office.
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform published a draft report that called New York’s $54 billion system bloated and lacking in accountability. A top-to-bottom examination is needed for a state that had turned the word Medicaid into a verb, the document said.
“New York state’s long-standing attitude of ‘if it moves, Medicaid it’ has resulted in the state inappropriately spending tens of billions of federal tax dollars over the past few decades,” the report said. “Although the committee’s oversight efforts during the last Congress focused on problems in the Medicaid program across the country, time and time again, the committee discovered that the worst abuses of the program consistently occurred in New York.”
The committee met Tuesday to discuss the report, and labeled it a draft for final action next week to allow New York officials more time to comment.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, chairman of the panel, credited whistleblowers for exposing many of the problems identified in “a system that allowed itself to be gamed.”
Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland said the report “goes a long way in … placing a spotlight on the situation,” but noted that more time is needed for polishing.
The committee blasted federal agencies last year for allowing New York to overbill the federal government $15 billion over two decades for services to developmentally disabled Medicaid recipients. The new report, like the prior one, drew from news stories that have questioned the state’s program. Medicaid is supposed to cover medical services to low-income patients.
“I can’t believe the Republican majority in Congress would allege such a thing,” said Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who has pledged to examine New York’s Medicaid costs. “I’ll take a look at the report.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s aides would not respond at length to the report’s findings and direction. “These issues occurred under previous administrations and most, if not all, of these issues have since been corrected,” said Richard Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesman.