8:15 PM Sunday, April 1, 2012
Ohio Medicaid overpaid roughly $8 million last year on blood-glucose test strips for diabetics, according to a recent report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
The report found that Ohio pays $35 for a 50-pack of test strips through Medicaid, which is run by the state and offers health coverage for people who are low-income and meet other criteria such as having children or a disability.
But Medicare — which covers people over age 65 and is directly run by the federal government — bids out the strips in some test areas such as Middletown, where it pays as little as $15.52 per pack.
The state bought up 23.3 million test strips in fiscal year 2011, putting the total price tag at $16.3 million.
“Establishing a competitive bidding (program) ... or using manufacturer rebates could result in an approximately 50-percent reduction in the cost of test strips,” the report says.
This comes as diabetes places an increasing strain on Medicaid. The number of people on Medicaid who are diagnosed with diabetes has grown from 130,385 in 2008 to 151,510 in 2011. That accounts for nearly a quarter of the state’s Medicaid budget, according to the most recent study released in 2008.
Testing strips are “quite an issue” for diabetics across the economic spectrum, with a box of 100 costing between $36 and $130, said Darlene Honigford, social services director for the Central Ohio Diabetes Association.
State officials say they’ve drafted a request for proposals to obtain manufacturers rebates on diabetic supplies. This will allow consumers to shop for the test strips at any pharmacy that accepts Medicaid, as opposed to the bidding program used by Medicare, which requires ordering through the mail.
There is no co-pay on test strips for people who are on Medicaid, so the change would not affect the cost for consumers.