The spotlight remains on Virginia’s Medicaid agency this legislative season. However, this time – the focus isn’t so much on Medicaid expansion per se, but how to ensure the agency’s forecasting is more accurate going forward.
Virginia’s Medicaid agency – also known as DMAS - anticipated some cost savings last year thanks to a relatively new program. It’s called CCC plus, for some of the state’s most costly patients: existing Medicaid members with disabilities, and those in nursing homes. But those projections were off by about $462 million over Northam’s two-year biennium budget period.
“To put that into perspective, you could fund teacher pay increases 10 percent with that amount of money,” said Republican Senator Ryan McDougle. He wants to move all financial forecasting responsibilities to a separate state agency. He insists the move will be cost neutral.
“To me, this seems premature,” said Democratic Senator Janet Howell in Thursday morning's Senate education and health committee meeting. She’d like to give DMAS the opportunity to fix the problem internally before signing on to McDougle’s proposal.
The bill advanced 8-7 on a party-line vote this morning, and will now be vetted for its fiscal impact. Earlier this week, DMAS announced plans to conduct an independent audit of its forecasting and rate-setting practices.