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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Washington Post Runs Major Story Highlighting that Less Than 0.01 Percent of Medicaid Expenditures in Illinois Were for Dead People

Washington Post Runs Major Story Highlighting that Less Than 0.01 Percent of Medicaid Expenditures in Illinois Were for Dead People

Sunday, 20 April 2014 08:39

The Washington Post decided to highlight the fact that a review of Illinois Medicaid documents going back to 1970 found that less than 0.01 percent of the programs spending were payments made for people who are already dead. This information was the basis of a major page 3 AP story in the Sunday paper. 

The article actually never informed readers how large the improper payments were as a share of the program's budget. Instead it told readers that $12 million in such payments had been made, $7 million of which were already recovered. If the article had been competently reported, the real story would be that Illinois' Medicaid program seems to be fairly well run in this respect. (It did include a statement from the director of the state program saying that these overpayments involved less than one tenth of one percent of their caseloads and an ever smaller share of the budget. It would have been more useful if the article directly provided this information to readers rather than leaving this as an assertion by an interested party.)

Any time large amounts of money are being spent there will be mistakes. Private companies make improper payments all the time. A real newspaper would have tried to assess the size of these mistaken payments relative to the size of the program and compared them to improper payments by other large organizations. Apparently Jeff Bezos has no interest in trying to inform the readers of his newspaper, he would rather use the news section to try to convince readers that the government is run by hopeless incompetents. 


Note: The fact that the piece was from AP was added after the original post.


Comments (7)Add Comment
written by Last Mover, April 20, 2014 9:27

The sock puppets forgot to mention the vast amount of fraudulent spending by Medicaid recipients on cryogenic freezing of their dead to emulate their envy of rich people who seem to live forever.
Smoke Screen
written by John Parks, April 20, 2014 10:41
Let's see. I think I've got this straight.
For the last 44 years the State of Illinois overpaid 12 million dollars and it will all be recovered by the end of this year.

State Senator Dale Righter is shocked...SHOCKED!

The real story here is his continued wringing of hands
and his pushing for privatization of the Medicaid Eligibility determinations

The unasked/unanswered question that I have is how much have Senator Righter and his fellow lackeys received in contributions from Maximus Health Services to get Maximus's contract restored?
Wouldn't some be expected?
written by Lord, April 20, 2014 11:03
Healthcare is not known for billing in advance and some are bound to die before the bills arrive.
Going with the numbers provided ...
written by John Puma, April 20, 2014 1:57
Forty-four years, $12 million = $270,000 per year.

Approximately 7500 times as much is spent annually by Americans on chewing gum ... ONLY chewing gum, i.e. NOT candy, cookies, cakes, chips, other junk "food products" nor sodas, etc. etc.
Bad audit?
written by David Cay Johnston, April 20, 2014 3:23
How much if this minute share of Illinois medical spending was due to data errors? Anyone who has settled the estate of someone whose death followed a costly illness probably hit bills dated after the death, but for services rendered before.

How much was fraud by medical care providers? The AP reporters, at Least as edited in the WashPost, do not say.

This is also typical of the many auditor general/inspector general reports that focus on minor stuff while missing big issues that somehow go unnoticed.....
written by djb, April 20, 2014 6:07

yes 12 million dollars.... since 1970!!!!
written by Kat, April 21, 2014 9:42
Every once in a rare while they have to run a story like this to balance out all the stories they run about people not claiming the EITC that are eligible for it.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.