Modified: November 30, 2018 8:55am
Erie County Medicaid Inspector General Michael Szukala today released the findings of his office’s report analyzing select Medicaid usage data for the period January 2018 – September 2018, the fifth in a series of annual Medicaid usage reports issued by the county Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”). The report notes that, as the OMIG forecast in 2017, Erie County’s Medicaid population appears to have stabilized between 282,000 – 287,000 clients. The report also reveals a continued decline in the number of prescriptions written for Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen, which was the number one prescribed medication for Medicaid recipients as recently as 2015 but has now fallen to seventh on that list while the most common medical need for prescriptions written in 2017 was for drugs that fight depression.
“Having a greater awareness of trends and patterns in Medicaid usage is tremendously valuable in helping to form public health policy and the OMIG report provides that awareness, with insights into who is using Medicaid countywide and what they are using it for. In the same way, digging into the data affords a clearer and more encompassing picture of the overall health of many aspects of our community and can shatter common misperceptions about the typical Medicaid recipient,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “With this report we are seeing an expected stabilization in the number of people receiving Medicaid assistance in Erie County. Also as we’ve seen in past reports, roughly one-third of county residents, 31%, continue to receive their health coverage from Medicaid while over 37% of all persons receiving Medicaid assistance in Erie County in 2017 were under the age of 21. This information is just part of the overall Medicaid picture in Erie County and I thank Director Szukala and his team for their work in assembling it.”
By comparison, in 2008 the percentage of children receiving Medicaid in Erie County was 27%. The report also showed that in 2017, as in years past, there were more whites on Medicaid in Erie County than there were African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-American/Pacific Islanders combined; that most county Medicaid recipients do not receive any other form of assistance; and that the vast majority of Emergency Room visits by Medicaid clients in Erie County are for legitimate emergency medical needs.
The report also notes a continuing decline in the number of Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen prescriptions written for Medicaid clients. An often-abused controlled substance, Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen was the most-prescribed Medicaid drug in Erie County from 2008-2014 but has fallen to the tenth most-prescribed drug in 2018, a drop that is seen as significant in the fight against opioid abuse. Demographic data contained in the report also reveals that a typical user of prescription Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen in Erie County in 2017 would be a white, single woman between the ages of 45-64.
Erie County OMIG Director Michael Szukala said, “This report underlines a critical issue: more than 280,000 persons in Erie County live at or near the federal poverty level, and over 37% of Medicaid clients in the county are under the age of 21. Poverty remains a very real concern in Erie County in 2018.”
The OMIG team’s three employees are funded by New York State under a 2012 agreement. Since its inception in 2012, the Erie County Office of the Medicaid inspector General has completed or is in the process of completing 41 audits covering more than $99 million in Medicaid payments. This includes audits of transportation providers, pharmacies, assisted living program providers and durable medical equipment (“DME”) providers. The results of these audits have been submitted to the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General for follow-up.
For more information:
On the Erie County Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, visit http://www2.erie.gov/medicaid/