Medicaid Changes Bring More Red Tape

Without four different medications each day, Chandee Carson, 3, wouldn't be alive. Her mother depends on Medicaid to pay for the expensive drugs. Last Friday, she went to the pharmacy to refill Chandee's prescription for Prevacid, but walked away empty handed after learning about a new Medicaid policy requiring an authorization number for certain drugs.

"I didn't hear anything about this until I went to get her medicine and they told me I couldn't have it," she said. "All because of a number."

Carson called her daughter's doctor, who knew nothing about the new policy. She's still waiting on the paperwork to clear through Medicaid, so she can get her daughter's prescription filled.

"Very frustrating," she said. "Knowing that your child needs this and you can't do anything to help her with it."

Pharmacist Woody Gamble says he's seen several Medicaid patients recently experiencing the same frustrations. He says the state is trying to save money by requiring special authorization for expensive drugs.

"In and of itself, that's a good idea, however, when you're dealing with a child that can die from choking on acid, there needs to be some way to circumvent this bureaucracy," he said.

Carson will run out of pills for her daughter on Tuesday. Now, she can only hope the paperwork gets through Jackson and back to her doctor before her daughter's health suffers.

Gamble says many Medicaid patients have also been surprised to learn that the state will only pay for five prescriptions now. Patients can get two additional prescriptions paid for, but that too requires extra paperwork.