Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott recently lauded record performance in criminal medicaid fraud enforcement in fiscal year 2004, including a significant increase in the number of investigations and criminal charges brought against those defrauding the government’s health care system for the needy.
Acting on legislative mandate, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit increased staffing levels from 36 to 110 currently, rising to 140 positions within two months. The unit opened eight new field offices in Dallas, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, San Antonio and Tyler. Investigators in those cities have begun identifying criminal operators in various health care fields. Staffing levels are expected to increase to more than 200 by the end of fiscal year 2005.
“We are seeing the culmination of efforts on a number of fronts to bring the full authority of the law to bear upon those who rob taxpayers and deprive Medicaid of the funds necessary to take care of the neediest Texans,” Abbott said. “We are committed to ferreting out fraud, seeking lengthy prison terms for lawbreakers, and recovering funds that were wrongfully taken.”
The Attorney General said the Medicaid Control Fraud Unit doubled the number of cases it opened in fiscal year 2004, the number of cases presented for prosecution and the number of cases in which criminal charges have been filed.
Identification of illegal overpayments made to fraudulent operators has increased by 85 percent to over $27 million. The unit was also recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as recipient of the annual Inspector General’s State Fraud Award. The unit will accept the nation’s top Medicaid fraud-fighting award in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20.
The unit has also designated assistant attorneys general to prosecute cases in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in all four federal judicial districts in Texas. It has also established task force relationships with the FBI in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio to broaden the fight against Medicaid fraud.
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