An audit of a big state program shows challenges ahead. Joint Audit Committee cochairman, state Senator Rob Cowles, says the audit of the state’s $7.5 billion Medicaid program highlights the need for good data for lawmakers charged with overseeing it. “For example, how much precisely we’re spending on Family Care. How much precisely we’re spending on Senior Care, and a number of other programs.” The Green Bay Republican say otherwise it’s going to be difficult for lawmakers to make intelligent decisions, absent the sort of extensive effort the Audit Bureau made this time. “This is the first time anybody is aware of, that there was a full blown audit of the Medicaid program,” he says. “This is second only to school aids, as far as overall expenditures.”
Representative Robin Vos, a member of the Joint Audit Committee and Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, says the Medicaid audit confirms that reform is imperative. “From financial mismanagement to a spike of out-of-state residents moving here to get benefits, this audit should be a wake-up call,” Vos says in a statement. “This is not a way to conduct a program that has a $7.5 billion price tag and impacts so many lives.”
READ: Rep. Vos statement on MA audit (pdf)
“We’re still going to have a lot of problems in this overall program for a long time,” says Cowles. “It’s massive. It’s expanding faster than the rate of inflation, faster than the ability of the state taxpayer to continue to fund it. We have to find ways to tighten it up, otherwise it will out compete other programs in state government.” Cowles says he’s “mostly happy” with the response of Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith and his staff to the audit, while noting there is still some disagreement between the agency and the Audit Bureau.
“I’m encouraged the current administration is beginning to implement the necessary reforms,” says the statement from Vos. “I have every confidence that under the leadership of DHS Secretary Dennis Smith, we’ll see improvements in the near future. The department has a new level of transparency and willingness to work with everyone. After this audit, it’s evident that the former administration may have needed to resort to improper practices due to the mishandling of the program.”