Accountability needed in Medicaid overpayment mess

A recent state audit showed that Michigan improperly spent $160 million over three years caring for Medicaid recipients needing in-home services primarily because it failed to obtain invoices and other required documentation from service providers.

That’s $160 million that could have been spent on the state’s massive infrastructure problem, or its public education system or to veterans care.

But instead, that $160 million could end up costing us even more, as auditors warned the state could be forced to repay nearly $97 million to the federal government.

This is not the type of fiscal accountability so often touted by our budget-balancing governor, who takes every opportunity to tell state residents that the state of Michigan is coming back. According to Gov. Snyder, the state’s finances are on the rebound and are being closely monitored.

Although much process has been made in other areas, a blunder of this magnitude doesn’t help the state’s financial picture for the year.

And it wasn’t just a financial mistake that was made. The audit also shows that nearly 3,800 of the roughly 70,000 home health providers had felony convictions, including 572 for violent crimes. It showed that state caseworkers failed to follow up with clients about who their in-home care providers were, citing one egregious example of the state Community Health and Human Services agencies possibly improperly paying one home aide unemployment benefits, after the person was fired by a Medicaid recipient for having illegal drugs and stealing the client’s medications.

We would like to know who was in charge of the oversight of these funds, because it seems as though a lot of people were asleep at the wheel.

We’d like to see these people held accountable for their monumental mishandling of state of funds, and their role in placing people in need of home health aides in danger by employing violent felons. We hope it’s more than just a slap on the wrist.

It’s going to take a lot of relentless positive action to right this ship. We hope the governor is up to the task.