New OIG Report Examines Prior Authorization Denials in Medicaid MCOs
Congress asked the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to investigate whether Medicaid MCOs are providing medically necessary health care services to their enrollees. OIG found that Medicaid MCOs had an overall prior authorization denial rate of 12.5%–more than 2 times higher than the Medicare Advantage rate. Prior authorization denial rates ranged widely across and within parent firms and states. After a prior authorization request is denied, Medicaid enrollees can appeal, but it’s not always straightforward and many appeals don’t change the initial decision. Unlike in Medicare Advantage, if a Medicaid MCO upholds its original denial, there is no automatic, independent external medical review. OIG found that state Medicaid agency oversight of prior authorization denials is limited. The OIG report underscores concerns about prior authorization and access in Medicaid managed care, keeping this issue at the forefront of ongoing policy discussions.