Letters to Louisiana Medicaid recipients warn budget cuts could threaten programs_lowres

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, Health Secretary Rebekah Gee and Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto spoke today about letters informing 37,000 Medicaid recipients that they may lose coverage.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is proud of adding half a million Louisianans to the rolls for government-funded health care as part of the state’s Medicaid expansion, a move largely supported by federal dollars.

The Edwards administration recently identified some 30,500 enrollees who either make too much money to qualify for the program or didn’t provide sufficient documentation of their income. That’s about 6 percent of those enrolled under the expansion, which doesn’t speak well about the state’s stewardship of tax dollars. An earlier state audit had estimated some $85 million might have been spent on ineligible enrollees. Louisiana Department of Health officials dispute the audit's methodology, and say the payments were made in accordance with state and federal policies and shouldn't be considered overpayments.       

Stephanie Grace: Louisiana's Medicaid enrollment fix is an example of something going right

State officials have upgraded their computer system to better track enrollees — an improvement, they point out, that was delayed by the Bobby Jindal administration. Even so, the governor’s critics wonder whether his eagerness to expand Medicaid contributed to the significant number of ineligible recipients.

That promises to be an issue in this year’s gubernatorial race, and that can be a good thing if it involves an informed debate about what other measures, if any, are needed to improve the management of Medicaid.

The best way to build support for Medicaid is to assure taxpayers their money is being spent wisely. Kicking off ineligible enrollees is obviously the first place to start.