Federal Watchdog: Medicaid Prior Authorization Denials Are Too Common

Medicaid managed care beneficiaries face “high rates of prior authorization denials” and “limited state oversight” of prior authorization, according to a notable new report from the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG). Medicaid experts who reviewed the report say it demonstrates that Medicaid members and safety net providers may not be able to appeal denials for administrative reasons, and they add that states must do more to facilitate appeals to and prevent inappropriate denials by contracted plans.

The OIG found, in a review of 2019 claims data from seven multistate carriers, that the studied MCOs “fully or partially denied approximately 2.2 million requests for the prior authorization of services,” amounting to one out of every eight requests, or 12.5% of all prior authorization requests. That rate was more than double the Medicare Advantage prior authorization denial rate of 5.7% in 2019, according to the OIG report published July 17.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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