Vicki Smith: No surprise

February 16, 2013 

No surprise

Regarding the Feb. 1 article “Audit: State overspent Medicaid budget by $1.4B”: The Medicaid Audit Report confirmed what many knew: Administrative costs have risen dramatically while services, particularly those for people with disabilities, have been reduced.

Case in point is the transition to Behavioral Health Managed Care. Any savings to date are the result of cuts in services, not reduced overhead. In spite of high administrative costs, the system is operated with inadequate oversight and antiquated technology while the intended beneficiaries, people with disabilities and the elderly, are losing services, likely forcing them into more costly programs down the road.

In order to get the system under control, we need an investment in infrastructure to track outcomes data, IT that results in prompt payment of providers and identifies problems early, and appropriate training.

Expanding Medicaid is an opportunity to build that infrastructure. It allows North Carolina to reduce the financial burden of county- and state-funded services that people without health insurance are forced to rely on: jails, ERs and dwindling state mental health dollars.

Our elected officials should consider all solutions, including Medicaid expansion, to address the problems.

North Carolinians deserve a government that is ahead of the system and not behind it.

Vicki Smith

Executive director, Disability Rights NC

Raleigh

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