NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 26, 2007

A year ago, candidates for New York governor and attorney general promised voters they would crack down on Medicaid fraud to bring back millions of taxpayer dollars that have been wasted by unscrupulous doctors and scam artists, says the Associated Press (AP).

So how have the winners, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, done so far?  Pretty well, records show:

  • Changes the Health Department implemented under Spitzer's administration were largely responsible for a reported $1 billion savings this year in the health care program for the poor.
  • A Health Department anti-fraud initiative, which used data mining to save $132 million, contributed to the $1 billion savings.
  • Investigations into home health aides with bogus certifications have saved the state about $110 million -- nearly double the $59 million recovered in 2006 under then Attorney General Spitzer, officials said.

But don't expect all that recovered money to cut taxes, says AP.  It went toward other spending, mostly in health care.  In fact, many experts don't see the initiatives making much of a dent in the $47 billion system that consumes a third of the state's budget.   According to Devon Herrick, health economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, New York has no incentive to rein in spending when it receives a 50 percent match in federal funds.  He said New York tends to use Medicaid as a "development grant."

"There really is that mentality that maximizing federal dollars is a way to politically keep your health care industry alive," Herrick said.

Source: Valerie Bauman, "Campaign promises a year later: Medicaid fraud collections rise," Newsday, December 25, 2007.


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