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Other Views: Audit hit the bullseye

The Oregon Health Authority has had its share of problems this year, not the least of which was an "audit alert" from Secretary of State Dennis Richardson's office in May. The alert came as state auditors discovered OHA had fallen behind in checking eligibility for Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) clients. The governor gave OHA until the end of August to get the job done, and, on the last day of the month, it did so.

The federal government requires that Medicaid eligibility be redetermined each year. In Oregon, with just shy of 1 million recipients, that requires either a fleet of people or a computer system that's up to snuff. OHA had neither.

To make matters worse, beginning in 2013 the federal government allowed the state to skip annual continuing eligibility evaluations for several years. The last waiver expired in June 2016.

The problem came to a head in May with Richardson's audit alert. At the time, nearly 12 months after the waiver expired, more than 80,000 Oregon Health Plan clients remained to be checked. The job was completed Aug. 31.

The state removed more than 54,000 people from the program. The costs add up.

Oregon pays $430 per Oregon Health Plan client per month. Assuring that everyone who is on the Oregon Health Plan is entitled to be there is critical. Had it not been for Richardson's  audit alert, Oregonians might never have become aware of how far away from being able to make that assurance the OHA really was.