MEDI-CAL I: Officials Announce Fraud Crackdown
In a "rare collaboration among the state controller, the U.S. attorney, the state attorney general and the FBI," California yesterday announced a ramped-up effort to crack down on Medi-Cal fraud. Saying the large public assistance program "attracts fraudsters like honey attracts bees," U.S. Attorney Paul Seave reported that the new task force filed criminal charges against "14 people accused of defrauding more than $14 million" from the program. Overall, prosecutors have identified 150 Californians who have allegedly defrauded the government of more than $133 million. State Controller Kathleen Connell said her office now has a "medical alert" fraud unit, as does each of the three agencies. In addition, a new computer program will help pinpoint those providers "most likely to be engaged in fraud," rather than relying on "random audits" as in the past. She said, "I have a message for those who would cheat the system in California. We now know who you are. Your day of reckoning is at hand and you should expect to get a visit from us very soon." FBI special agent James Maddock, who heads the Sacramento office, said, "This allows us to attack [fraud] on an unprecedented scale." But attorney Malcolm Segal, who represents several people targeted in the fraud crackdown, took issue with the "wholesale investigation" of medical suppliers, saying it is unfair and could "deprive patients of needed equipment and pharmaceuticals" (Hubert, Sacramento Bee, 3/11).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.