Taylor Advocates for Medicaid Reform to Improve Efficiency and Save Tax Dollars

Monday, May 21, 2007

Columbus -

In an ongoing effort to protect and save Ohio’s tax dollars, State Auditor Mary Taylor testified before the Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee presenting four specific recommendations to improve Ohio’s Medicaid program.  The recommendations are based on a performance audit released by the Auditor’s Office in December 2006 making more than 100 recommendations.  If implemented, the recommendations could save more than $400 million tax dollars a year.

“Ohio spends more than $13 billion on Medicaid every year,” Taylor said.  “It’s critical that we continue to look for ways to improve the program to ensure it is operating in the most efficient way possible.  The Medicaid performance audit provides a blueprint for the systematic overhaul of a state agency spending billions of taxpayer dollars annually.  There are four specific recommendations that we can put into place immediately that will work to save tax dollars through improved efficiencies or direct cost savings.  I am urging members of the Ohio Senate to include these recommendations as part of the state budget.” 

As part of her budget testimony before the committee, Taylor commended the Strickland administration and the Ohio House of Representatives for including recommendations from the Medicaid performance audit as part of House Bill 119.  Taylor also urged members of the Ohio Senate to include the following recommendations from the performance audit in the budget. 

• Participating in a national cost-savings program
The Performance Audit identified a free national program called the Public Assistance Reporting Information System.  This program, administered by the federal government, allows states to share public assistance information across state lines.  Ohio is the only state in our region that does not participate in this program.  By simply participating in this program, the state could see savings as high as $7.3 million a year.

• Monitoring Medicare Part D
The federal Medicare Part D program may have a profound impact on the purchasing power of the Ohio Medicaid Program.  (Medicare Part D is a federal program that provides drug coverage for Medicaid-eligible Medicare recipients who were formally funded by the state through Medicaid).  By monitoring the effect of Medicare Part D, the state will be in a better position to make informed decisions on how to maximize state supplemental drug rebates, including possibly joining a joint purchasing pool for prescription drugs.  At the same time, Ohio needs to assess the use of generic drugs, which are typically lower in cost than name brands. By joining purchasing pools at the right time and increasing the utilization of generic drugs, the state could save as much as $59 million a year.

• Storing information electronically
Taylor encouraged the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to require the electronic storage of recipient eligibility verification information in county offices.  This simple requirement will save the state and counties significant time and reduce the number of errors that occur when staff is required to continually input the same information into computer systems. 

• Publishing nursing home occupancy levels
Taylor recommended that the Ohio Department of Health collect and publish nursing home occupancy levels for each county.  This information is vital for the state to determine the utilization and availability of nursing beds throughout the state.   This information is important for program planning and future policy making purposes. 

These recommendations are part of Auditor Taylor’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that the recommendations made by the Medicaid performance audit are implemented.  As her work continues in this area, she expects to make additional announcements involving Medicaid reform in the near future.

The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office is one of the largest accounting offices in the nation.  The office strives to ensure that all public funds are spent legally and appropriately and works aggressively to root out fraud, waste and abuse in public spending. Taylor encourages anyone suspecting fraud or misspending of public dollars to contact her office toll free at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).

A copy of the Medicaid performance audit is available online at www.auditor.state.oh.us.