Audit: Medicaid Quality of Care Varies by State

More than 50 million people receive healthcare through state-managed Medicaid programs, but the quality of that care varies widely and receives little federal scrutiny, a government audit has found.

Each state is largely free to set its own standards for care, including the distance a patient travels to see a doctor, the time a patient must wait for an appointment and the patient-to-doctor ratio within certain regions.

Those standards vary widely across states and are largely unregulated by the federal government, according to an investigation by the inspector general’s office for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

As a result, federal officials say they don’t know whether a state’s standards “are adequate to ensure access to care.”

While setting standards is a state responsibility, the audit says the federal government should strengthen its oversight and provide more guidance to states about how to run a managed Medicaid program.