By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, the Alabama House passed a resolution to establish a Medicaid task force to oversee the troubled agency.
Sponsor by Representative Greg Wren (R-Montgomery) the task force will take steps to look deeper into the agencies budget woes and the stonewalling but bureaucrats within the department.
“The Legislature is going to step up to its rightful responsibility to ask questions about what is going on at Medicaid and its history, where it is today and it projections into the future,” said Wren.
After a $81 million accounting error–that was first reported by the Alabama Political Reporter–was disclosed the department has come under heavy scrutiny.
Just days after the disclosure of the so-called accounting error the Director of Medicaid resigned and Dr. Don Williamson from Health was asked to step in and manage the department until replacement was found.
Medicaid is the state’s largest agency represents over one-third of the state’s general fund.
“Currently Medicaid, really effects everyone, because this agency consumes around 34 percent of our general fund state budget,” said Wren.
Wren points out that Legislators are the appropriators in state government by constitution and yet it has been difficult for them to get information from an agency that effects 20 to 25 percent of the state’s population that is dependent on Medicaid.
“We are going to ask a lot of questions and we expect answers, this is not like a federal prosecutor who asks question he has the answers too,” said Wren, “ We don’t know the answers and have never been given the answers.”
The task force will be made up of 16 members, eight from the Senate and eight from the House. The 16 will be consist of the Chair of House Health Committee, Chair of Senate Health Committee and Chair of both General fund committees Ways and Means Taxation. This will leave an additional eight to be appoint by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem.
“Dr. Don Williamson is asking of some real questions over at Medicaid, since Governor Bentley asked him to go in there and fix it,” said Wren, “But we may be dealing with a system that is so broken that it is unfixable but we are going to take an optimistic approach. Times have changed and we need for people at Medicaid to be honest and transparent about what is going on.”