Oregon's Secretary of State said Wednesday morning some 86,000 current Medicaid recipients may actually not be eligible to receive the benefits.
Dennis Richardson said the discovery was made during an audit of the Oregon Health Authority. The figure represents about 8 percent of Oregon's Medicaid population.
Richardson said the recipients "have not undergone the federally required annual benefit eligibility determination process."
Of the 85,700 recipients in question, about 14,100 people did not return renewal applications. A preliminary analysis "did not clearly identify why the remaining 71,600 have not been redetermined," according to Richardson's office.
Richardson said the situation "may place federal funding to Oregon in jeopardy and result in a misuse of state monies."
OHA officials, in a statement issued late Wednesday morning, took issue with the report, saying it's based on "preliminary information and does not provide the entire context" for the Medicaid renewal and eligibility process.
For one thing, federal law deems that "all individuals are considered eligible until a Medicaid redetermination process is complete."
The group is still working on some recipients' transition from the failed Cover Oregon system to the state's new Medicaid program. That transition should be completed by the end of the month, according to OHA.
House Republican Leader Mike McLane, in a statement, said the news is disconcerting on several fronts.
"Lawmakers and the public deserve a full accounting for what led to such a significant failure of management and oversight," he said.
Richardson recommended that OHA "work with the federal regulatory authorities to ensure federal Medicaid funding is not jeopardized while OHA resolves these eligibility determination issues." It also wants a full report on efforts to resolve the issues by October.
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