Fla. Gov. Pens Bill Aimed at Halting Medicaid Fraud

June 29, 2004

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has signed legislation that will reportedly enhance the state’s authority to combat Medicaid fraud.

Senate Bill 1064 gives the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) more authority to contest fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program and broadens the Attorney General’s scope of authority to pursue entities that try to defraud Medicaid.

“Medicaid costs are growing at an unsustainable rate; part of that is caused by millions of dollars in fraudulent claims to the program each year. We have a responsibility to do all we can to ensure those who try to cheat the system, and thereby cheat taxpayers, are punished,” Governor Bush said.

“Because of this new law, the buying or selling of prescription drugs paid for by taxpayer dollars is now a Medicaid fraud crime. I commend the Legislature for creating, and the Governor for signing, this important legislation,” Attorney General Charlie Crist said. “Medicaid drug fraud has become an ever-increasing contributor to drug addiction and death. The increasing cost in human life and public funds means that targeting this crime is an issue whose time has come.”

SB 1064 allows for the following:

* Expands the authority of the Office of Statewide Prosecution to investigate and prosecute criminal violations of the Medicaid program.

* Medicaid drug reimbursement is now limited to prescriptions by Medicaid enrolled prescribers. Previously, non-Medicaid providers could write prescriptions to be paid by Medicaid.

* Allows the AHCA to seek any remedy allowed by law when the Department finds false or a pattern of erroneous claims.

“I applaud the Governor, the Legislature and the Senate Select Committee for taking bold steps to fight fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program this legislative session,” Alan Levine, Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration, said. “SB 1064 provides the Agency with additional tools to help detect fraud and act more swiftly when suspected fraudulent activity is occurring. This is important because every dollar lost to fraud could otherwise have been spent on needed services for Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. At a time when states are struggling to maintain their Medicaid programs, the Florida Legislature deserves credit for recognizing how
timely and critical this legislation is.”

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