One way that Medicaid can save money is by paying for assisted living care for seniors who are eligible for it, instead of paying for nursing home care. A new report found that because of a lack of oversight, that is not happening.
Medicaid was not originally designed to pay for seniors' stays in assisted living facilities. However, as more and more money was being spent on nursing home facilities and the costs at those facilities continued to rise, the federal government granted states waivers to use Medicaid funds for the generally less expensive assisted living facilities.
This should have saved the federal government quite a bit of money.
A group of Senators asked the Government Accountability Office to study how the government's money was being used. The results were not good as The New York Times reported in "U.S. Pays Billions for 'Assisted Living,' but What Does It Get?"
Every year the government spends approximately $10 billion on assisted living facilities. The discouraging news? It is almost impossible to determine how much of the money is well-spent and how much of it is not. The GAO found that a lack of regulations and proper oversight made it impossible to get even basic information about patient outcomes and critical events in many states.
This is disturbing since Medicaid is expected to need even more money in the future to pay for the nursing home care and assisted living care of an aging population. If the oversight problem is not fixed, it will be seniors who are most harmed by the problems.
Reference: New York Times (Feb. 3, 2018) "U.S. Pays Billions for 'Assisted Living,' but What Does It Get?"