BATON ROUGE, LA (KSLA) - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is again locked in a war of words with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards as he calls on Louisiana’s top health official to resign.
This latest battle comes a day after the Louisiana Legislative Auditor released a report that said the Louisiana Department of Health may have spent as much as $85 million on Medicaid benefits for people who weren’t eligible for assistance.
Kennedy says it’s time for a change in leadership in the department currently led by Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee.
“The report is stunning, it is breathtaking, there aren’t words in English to describe what our Legislative Auditor found,” lamented Kennedy in a call with reporters on Wednesday.
"Dr. Gee needs to step down. The governor needs to put somebody in that department who respects taxpayer money.”
The audit found the Department of Health did not frequently check state wage data for Medicaid recipients and, instead, relied on recipients to self-report income changes. This resulted in some recipients continuing to receive benefits, even if their income changes made them ineligible for Medicaid, according to the report.
Richard Carbo, a spokesman for Edwards, said the governor has full confidence in Dr. Gee.
“It’s under [Dr. Gee’s] leadership that new technology is being put in place to address income verification issues," said Carbo in a written statement.
"This administration is increasing income verification checks by 400%, which will address the long-term problem described in the audit.”
Dr. Gee says new systems will now use state and federal income information to provide better verification of eligibility.