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State Audit: Medicaid program could be more efficient

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - State auditors said today that Wisconsin’s Medicaid health programs for the poor could be a lot more efficient. The Legislative Audit Bureau reviewed the programs that provide tax-funded care to one-of-every-five state residents. It found that there are three privately-contracted employees administering Medicaid for every state worker – and their costs have doubled in four years, going beyond some of the state’s spending limits. The audit also found that Medicaid does not take advantage of some cheaper ways to provide care – like HMO’s which put limits on patient rates. The program has done fewer investigations into potential fraud. Wisconsin is on the upper end of eligibility limits compared to its neighboring states. But Assembly Democrat Jon Richards of Milwaukee says it’s not like Wisconsin is a Medicaid magnet – and there’s no evidence that poor people are moving here to get higher benefits. Deputy Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades welcomed the audit results, saying that taxpayers, health providers, and patients should expect quote, “zero tolerance for inefficiency, waste, and fraud.” Rhoades has said her agency has started making changes – including thorough reviews of all of Medicaid’s private contractors. The state’s payments to vendors doubled over the last four years, which patients loads have ballooned due to the recession. Senate Republican Rob Cowles of Green Bay said it’s vital to cut all wasteful Medicaid spending because it accounts for most of the state’s new spending. In Cowles’ words, “It’s eating up all the seed corn in the state budget.”

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