Residents living in million dollar houses among those receiving Medicaid funds; system needs to change, auditor says.

Published 2:11 pm Monday, August 2, 2021

Two Mississippi residents with houses worth more than $1 million have been receiving coverage under the Medicaid program that is designed to help low-income residents, according to a report released Monday by the state auditor’s office.

Auditor Shad White said those are examples of waste that could be curbed, and money that could be saved, if Mississippi legislators allow the Division of Medicaid to communicate directly with the state Department of Revenue to verify information that people provide when applying for Medicaid coverage.

Under current state law, the Division of Medicaid must rely on people to report their own income and to supply documents such as tax returns. The law does not allow the Division to request information from the state Department of Revenue.

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White said such verification could save the state money by revealing possible false reporting by recipients.

“When you spend more money on Medicaid, that’s less money for other stuff,” White, a Republican, said during a conference call with reporters.

White’s office on Monday released its annual single audit report of how state agencies have spent federal money. This one was for the budget year that ended June 30, 2020.

Medicaid provides health insurance coverage for the needy, elderly, blind and disabled. It is paid by federal and state governments. Because Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the nation, it receives one of the most generous portions of federal money for Medicaid.

The audit report said the Mississippi Division of Medicaid has been investigating the two possible fraud cases with people receiving Medicaid coverage despite having income that was too high. One person had taxable self-employment income higher than $300,000, and another had taxable self-employment income higher than $100,000. The auditor’s office said it verified that both people own homes with fair market value exceeding $1 million.

The Division of Medicaid says an adult with two dependent children may earn no more than $476 a month for the family to be eligible for coverage. That is $5,712 a year.

Mississippi has a population of about 3 million. Nearly 773,000 people were enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program in June. That is up from about 697,000 in June 2020.

The audit report said both people with the high incomes and expensive homes were still receiving Medicaid benefits and have been receiving them for more than a year.

“The fiscal year payments for these two instances that might not have been eligible to receive the benefits totaled $9,414 of questioned costs,” the audit report said.