March 13, 2013

Block Report: Food Stamps Abused For Oxy and Vike

Marc Comtois

According to the Waste and Fraud Report formulated by Ken Block and released in a redacted version by Governor Chafee this afternoon (pdf), there's a whole lotta Oxy and Vike on the market thanks to Food Stamps:

We performed a study where we looked at Medicaid drug utilizations for Vicodin and Oxycontin (and all of their various related forms). We chose these two drugs because there is a strong resale market for these drugs. In this study, we identified a pupulation of EBT recipients who the data suggest are selling their EBT cards on a monthly basis and wanted to see if their drug usage was statistically different from the Medicaid population at large.

We only looked at Food Stamp recipients who requested more than 3 replacement EBT cards in the timeframe of a year. The operating theory here is that anyone replacing thier EBT cards that often are likely selling their Food Stamp benefits for cash.

RI has 1,358 Food Stamp beneficiaries who requested more than 3 card replacements in the course of a year. Of those, 868 had at least one Medicaid drug prescription filled. There were a total of 155,948 Medicaid beneficiaries who had at least one pharmacy benefit.

When comparing the 868 Food Stamp beneficiaries who received Medicaid drug benefits, 149 had Oxycontin prescriptions (17%) and 234 had Vicodin prescriptions (26%). That is compared to 4% and 8%, respectively, for other Medicaid beneficiaries. As the report continues:
The difference in the percentage of the Food Stamp trafficking population receiving these prescriptions versus the entire Medicaid population's percentage of these prescriptions is significant and beyond statistically meaningful, suggesting a strong predictive link of fraud in one program leading to fraud in other programs.

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I have 15 years of programming and database experience. Some of which was contract work for RI State agencies.
My translation of the portions of this report talking about the data (or lack of) is: "This is what we found with absolute crap data. I can not even estimate what we would find with moderately good data."

Posted by: Phil Hirons, Jr at March 13, 2013 8:07 PM

Oxycontin - It isn't called "Hillbilly Heroin" for no reason at all.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 13, 2013 8:57 PM

I can't tell you how many times I was involved in executing search warrants for drugs and we found food stamps(the old booklet type)because they were used as currency to buy coke and heroin.Oxycontin hadn't been on the market in those days.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 13, 2013 11:44 PM

Not much new here. "Buying" food stamps was a natural response of the old "mom and pop" stores to the pressure put on them by modern "convenience" stores. By the time the mom and pops disappeared it had become a staple of the busines.

It was one of the things that EBT cards were supposed to prevent.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 14, 2013 11:29 AM
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