GAO: Medicaid patients lacking preventive care

New research by the Government Accountability Office suggests that Medicaid beneficiaries aren't getting the level of preventive services they need, a problem that can't be helping these programs control their costs or meet wellness goals.

At present, most states monitor children's use of preventive services, and some set children's wellness goals. Almost all (47 states) said they had multiple efforts in place to improve the uptake of preventive services for children. That being said, both adults and children aren't taking full advantage of preventive services, the GAO noted.

For example, many Medicaid-insured children aren't getting well-child check ups, and potentially preventable problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity are growing issues. Meanwhile, Medicaid-covered adults are not making full use of preventive services, with blood pressure tests proving popular, but use of several other services remaining low. Meanwhile, coverage of preventive services for adults varies widely from state to state, with intensive counseling addressing obesity and high cholesterol covered by less than one-third of states.

GAO is recommending that CMS make sure that Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment programs get a regular review, and that the agency offer guidance to states on key services like obesity screening and counseling.

To learn more about the GAO's recommendations:
- read this agency summary (.pdf)