MEDI-CAL: Davis Offers Plan to Guard Against Fraud
Spurred by a rash of Medi-Cal fraud, Assemblywoman Gloria Romero (D-Alhambra) introduced a measure sponsored by Gov. Gray Davis (D) that would create stricter guidelines for Medi-Cal billing procedures. If passed, the measure would increase penalties for defrauding the $21 billion-program beyond those required under federal law. The proposal calls for longer sentences, up from one year to 10 years in state prison. Those convicted of fraud involving serious bodily injury to a child could face 20 years in prison. And if fraud cases involve a patient death, the penalty could be life imprisonment. The bill also would expand and strengthen the state's authority to investigate fraud cases as well as the state law regarding temporary suspensions and the withholding of payments to providers. According to the state Department of Health Services, this year alone, more than 100 Medi-Cal fraud indictments in the state have been investigated and charged under federal law. Davis said, "California taxpayers have the right to expect that every penny of Medi-Cal money is being spent on deserving patients. My administration is going after Medi-Cal fraud with a vengeance." He added, "This bill will improve our ability to prevent scam artists from corrupting this important health care program" (Office of the Governor release, 5/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.