Medicaid Inspector General Key To Future Property Tax Relief

George Winner

June 29, 2006

Albany, N.Y.-- State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) today said that the Legislature’s agreement to create a new, independent Office of Medicaid Inspector General is a "key victory for local property taxpayers."

Winner, a strong Medicaid reform advocate for nearly three decades in the Legislature, said that the new initiative signals that reform advocates have finally turned the corner on encouraging a widespread, bipartisan recognition of the need for comprehensive reform in the state’s most costly health care program.

"It’s another victory for the property taxpayer, and it’s about time. Medicaid’s ineffectiveness gets into the pockets of local taxpayers for billions of dollars annually," said Winner. "A new, independent Medicaid Inspector General will begin to put an end to the rampant abuse, fraud and waste that has defined our Medicaid system for far too long."

Winner has co-sponsored legislation approved by the Senate with strong bipartisan support for the past two years that served as the framework for the creation of the new Medicaid Inspector General. It will consolidate the state’s Medicaid fraud detection and prosecution efforts into a single agency, a move that Winner believes will lead to billions of dollars in annual taxpayer savings and greatly improve the accountability, integrity and quality of New York’s $46-billion Medicaid program.

"We’re finally making some dramatic and long-overdue headway on Medicaid reform for our counties and local property taxpayers," said Winner, referring to action by the Legislature and Governor George Pataki last year to implement a cap on local Medicaid expenses. The local Medicaid cap, which took effect in January, is already being credited with helping to restrain local property tax increases in counties locally and statewide.

Winner said that the Medicaid inspector general initiative calls for a dramatic reorganization of the state's process of preventing, detecting, investigating and recovering improper Medicaid payments and combating fraud and abuse within the program. Current responsibilities and staff from eight state agencies will be consolidated into a single office that will serve to facilitate both the recovery of improper Medicaid expenditures and the prosecution of criminal acts.

Winner and his colleagues contend that the new Medicaid Inspector General will produce $2.3 billion in annual savings for New York and provide significant tax relief for state and local taxpayers.