House Republican lawmakers grilled state health officials about the growing Medicaid budget and whether the state is doing enough to prevent waste or misspending. Baton Rouge Representative Rick Edmonds is concerned the health department’s budget is set to grow by another billion dollars.

“It’s an exorbitant amount of money. It is a national crisis of where we are going financially to try to keep up with the spending for, in particular in our state, LDH,” said Edmonds.

Health Secretary Rebekah Gee said mistakes will be made with a large government program, but they are trying to control spending and pointed to the recent removal of 30,000 people from Medicaid because they made too much money.

“The Governor has lead the discussion around eligibility and making sure that we have an eligibility system that accurately determines individuals who need this program,” said Gee.

The House Appropriations Committee is hearing from every state agency as they  put together a spending plan for next fiscal year. Edmonds said the health department’s budget is set to grow to nearly $15 billion and they need confidence that the money is spent wisely.

“The reason we’re digging so deep is to try to find anyway that we possibly can to slow down the loss or the fraud or waste to where we can somehow maintain the quality of services that we have,” said Edmonds.

It was revealed during the hearing that 1600 people making at least $100,000 per year were covered by Medicaid, which is way above the income threshold. But Gee said an upgraded computer system should make sure ineligible residents are not receiving taxpayer funded health care.

“There will always be mistakes made in any very, very large program but I think if you look at the national rates and where Louisiana stands, and we’ll be happy to have that discussion, we do very well,” said Gee.

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