The Medicaid program provides necessary and valuable health care to our most vulnerable citizens. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals who try to or successfully cheat the system. This abuse affects people in legitimate need of Medicaid services, but it also puts unfair burdens on homeowners who are forced to pay for the excess costs in their property taxes.
I am one of several legislators recognizing that, over time, Medicaid costs have skyrocketed, in part because of fraudulent claims and wasteful spending by patients and providers alike. In acknowledging the problem, my colleagues and I established the Assembly Minority Task Force on Medicaid Fraud, Waste and Abuse. The panel is charged with gathering information and investigating the toll that fraud, waste and abuse has on the Medicaid system, the state economy and, most importantly, you Ė the taxpayer. The task force uses this information to develop initiatives and enhance programs to combat fraud and look at ways to provide counties with necessary fiscal relief.
Current estimates of Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse total about 10 percent of overall Medicaid costs, which have devastating effects on taxpayers throughout the state.
To put this in perspective, consider the estimated savings to our communities if Medicaid fraud and abuse is controlled: Onondaga County taxpayers could save $18.2 million a year; Ontario County, $3.5 million; Seneca County, $1.3 million; Cortland County $1.9 million; and Cayuga County, $2.7 million. Overall, itís estimated New York spends $4.5 billion in faulty and criminal Medicaid waste. Consider also that New York pays more in Medicaid program costs than California and Texas combined, yet our population is lower.
I have been traveling the state gathering information about Medicaid waste and overall program spending through round-table discussions, forums, and question-and-answer sessions. We are also examining alternative techniques of fraud detection and working to further enhance current methods. By providing Medicaid Reform we can provide property tax relief for all New Yorkers while providing quality health care for deserving individuals.
I am an advocate in the Assembly of measures establishing a permanent Office of Medicaid Inspector General that would directly address the fraud, waste and abuse that accounts for too much of our state Medicaid spending. The office would be responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of fraud and abuse within the Medicaid program; referral of appropriate cases for criminal prosecution; and recovery of improperly expended Medicaid funds. Existing legislation in the state Senate and Assembly would establish this office; however, there are certain discrepancies between the two house measures that must be resolved to ensure appropriate reforms can be reached. I assure you I am working with my colleagues to find solutions that best serve all New Yorkers.
As always, please contact my office if you have questions, comments or concerns regarding this or other matters. I can be reached by mail at 607 West Washington St., Suite 2, Geneva, NY 14456, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (315) 781-2030.