State Senators Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. and Dean G. Skelos today joined Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen M. Rice to announce $750,000 in state funding for the creation of a Medicaid Fraud Unit in Nassau County. State Senators Kemp Hannon and Carl Marcellino also attended the announcement, which took place at D.A. Rice’s office in Mineola.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that 10 percent of health care spending is lost to fraud and abuse. The Medicaid Fraud Unit will work to recoup funds lost to fraud in Nassau County through aggressive investigation and prosecution. Recovered funding will provide financial relief to homeowners by reducing costs in the county budget, which is funded through local property taxes. The Unit will operate under the District Attorney’s Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau and will partner with the new state Office of Medicaid Inspector General and the state Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to root out fraud, waste and profiteering in the Medicaid system.
The State Senators secured the $750,000 in funding through the 2007-08 state budget. The funds will be utilized to hire specialized staff experienced in investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud.
Senator Fuschillo (R-Merrick) said, "Medicaid fraud is stealing billions of dollars from New Yorkers and driving up taxes. This funding will enable the District Attorney’s office to become an active partner with New York State to further combat Medicaid fraud and abuse and save the taxpayers of Nassau County millions of dollars."
Senator Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), the author of the Medicaid Fraud Reform Act of 2006, said, "To effectively combat Medicaid fraud and recover taxpayers’ money, we need a strong partnership between state and local government. Last year, we took an important first step to fundamentally reform the state’s anti-fraud efforts and create a more accountable system. District attorneys play an important role in the fight against Medicaid fraud and, by establishing a first-of-its-kind Medicaid fraud unit in District Attorney Rice’s office, this project will provide a model for the rest of the state."
District Attorney Rice said, "The creation of this unit will have an immediate impact on our ability to protect tax dollars and strengthen this vital program. These legislators have shown a real commitment to giving law enforcement in Nassau County the tools we need to fight modern crime and protect our tax dollars."
According to the New York State Department of Health statistics, 2005 Medicaid expenditures for Nassau County were in excess of $1.3 billion.
Last year, Long Island Senators successfully fought to create a tough new state law to combat Medicaid fraud. The law includes creation of the office of an independent Medicaid Inspector General with the power to aggressively investigate Medicaid fraud and established new penalties for those convicted of Medicaid offenses. The law also authorizes the creation of partnerships between the state and local district attorneys to help prosecute more cases of Medicaid fraud.
Senator Kemp Hannon (R-6th Senate District), Chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said, "Healthcare takes up an enormous portion of government budgets each and every year. Billions of dollars are being stolen by those who commit Medicaid fraud. When recovered, that money can be reallocated back into the budget to alleviate other costs, thus lessening the taxes imposed on residents. This is another small step we are taking to control the cost of government and fight abuse."
"Medicaid fraud places an undue financial burden on taxpayers and it takes funds away from those that need it most. This funding demonstrates that the Senate will not tolerate the abuse of public funds intended to help the most vulnerable members of our society," said Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset).
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