Virginia Medicaid wasting more money
There's a lot of slicing and dicing going on in Richmond as legislators chew on Gov. Bob McDonnell's spending proposals.
Democrats are criticizing the governor's plan to borrow money for transportation without hiking the gas tax. Some Republicans don't like how he's earmarking funds for private-sector groups.
While you can skin the budget many ways, there's an area of spending that can't go away and, in fact, promises to grow much, much bigger. That's Medicaid. It has accounted for 20 percent of the growth in Virginia's budget over the past decade, reaching 15 percent of all spending. And it's likely to grow by 50 percent in the next few years as states carry out mandates from the federal health-care reform.
Given this, it's all the more troubling to hear about waste within the program.
We learned a few months ago that Virginia Medicaid paid $38.9 million in fraudulent or erroneous Medicaid claims in 2009. More news came out this week, with a report that it is shelling out an estimated $5 million annually for individuals who might not qualify because of invalid Social Security numbers.
Virginia's auditor of public accounts, Walt Kucharski, tells me it's the fault of the Department of Social Services. Social workers must accept the Social Security numbers of applicants even if they're not verified during the process. But the workers are supposed to follow-up and validate the numbers within a year -- and many are not doing that.
That's at least part of the reason why Virginia Medicaid had the wrong Social Security numbers for 1,350 Virginians whose health-care costs were covered during over the span of one month last year, calling into question $426,000 in outlays.
There's a lot of talk right now about reforming government. Here's an area where DSS can start right now.
Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.
Paige Winfield Cunningham
| January 20, 2011; 11:40 AM ET
Categories: Local blog network, Vincent Gray, health care, public health
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