STATE OF THE STATE: Davis Calls for More Money to Fight Medi-Cal Fraud, Help Elderly
Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday delivered his annual State of the State Address, telling lawmakers, "The state of our state is strong" (Lucas/Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/6). Although he focused mainly on education initiatives, Davis also called for an additional $26 million to investigate Medi-Cal fraud. If approved, the money would fund an additional 250 fraud investigators and staff. "Although we've launched the most widespread attack ever on these crooks, we've only scratched the surface," Davis said. Issuing a warning to all "those so-called doctors, lawyers and businessmen who are defrauding the state," he said, "We're coming after you next." Davis' Finance Department originally rejected a health department request for more funds to fight fraud, but after director Diana Bonta appealed directly to the governor, Davis offered "whatever she needed," the Los Angeles Times reports. Davis' other health care priority yesterday involved the elderly and nursing homes. He proposed hiring 200 additional auditors to investigate violations and advocated increased fines up to $100,000 for operators whose negligence causes a patient's death (Morain, 1/6). The governor also asked legislators to provide $20 million for the expansion of adult community day and health care centers, as well as higher wages for in-home elderly caretakers. In an additional effort to encourage seniors to remain in their homes, Davis proposed a $500 tax credit for families that provide at- home care for older relatives (Jordan/Aratani, San Jose Mercury News, 1/6).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.