82,000 citizens could be removed from Medicaid by the end of October
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Health released figures showing 82,000 people could lose Medicaid coverage by the end of the month as the state returns to its "auto-close" feature.
That automated program is supposed to weed out people who are ineligible because they haven't turned in paperwork on time. However, this summer, the state suspended that program. The state did not have enough workers to process the paperwork coming in.
As a result of the suspension of the auto-closures, taxpayers foot the bill for at least $45 million, for the months that people were continued on Medicaid without verifying whether they were eligible.
"Everyone in government has a fiduciary responsibility to make sure tax dollars sent to us are properly spent," State Representative Tony Bacala said. "This quite frankly is a failure."
Wednesday, the Louisiana Department of Health sent the following statement:
"The Department of Health is resuming auto-closures for approximately 82,000 adult Medicaid recipients at the end of the month. Auto-closures will not affect Louisiana's most vulnerable citizens: the children, waiver recipients, and those in long-term care such as nursing homes. Those who will be affected will receive additional letters and communication from the Department or their health plan in the coming weeks. Many of these individuals are likely still eligible and may maintain their coverage if they respond."
Bacala believes someone needs to be held accountable for what he described as a failure since the state knew those people were coming up for renewals and did not have adequate staffing to handle it.
"Teachers are fighting for a $1,000 a month in a raise while we are wasting ten times that amount in a program because of a lack of oversight," Bacala said. "Let's put it into perspective."
Bacala said he is urging any citizens who receive letters to reply quickly to make sure they don't lose their health insurance by the end of the month.