Electronic Medicaid visit verification devices raise privacy concerns

Better Call Jackson

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – How would you feel if Medicaid placed a monitor in your home for your protection and to cut down on fraud?

That may sound good, but Better Call Jackson received a call from Andrea Mullens, who is concerned the device could invade her privacy.

Mullens says every day is a new challenge as she deals with a number of health issues. She qualified for home health assistance from Medicaid.

For ten hours every week, someone comes into her home to do light housework. She has no complaints about the worker.

In an attempt to make sure all patients receive quality care, Ohio Medicaid had started using electronic visit verification (EVV). The system uses a repurposed smartphone, modified so only the EVV app can be used.

Each visit is recorded when the health care worker signs in on the device. The state says no other data is collected and the camera is disabled.

“So that the system doesn’t get abused and I don’t get abused. I understand there’s a reason for doing it. I just think there has to be a happy medium, a better way,” said Mullens.

Mullens is concerned about other things the device could be recording.

“This is America, and your home is supposed to be your fortress of solitude and you’re supposed to be protected from all of that, where you can talk freely and you don’t have to worry about, gee, are they listening on the audio,” said Mullens.

She says she wants to get rid of the device, even if it means getting rid of the services.

According to the Medicaid Ohio, the EVV is the preferred method, however, individuals can refuse to use the device if it does not meet their needs for any reason.

The Ohio Medicaid Visit Verification Program is developing an app that will be available to providers and direct care workers to record visit information on their own devices. That app should be available this summer.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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