OLYMPIA - A package of Medicaid fraud reform bills continues to advance through the Legislature as the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee has now passed three bills designed to address Medicaid fraud from separate angles to cut waste and recover more taxpayer dollars.
"When it comes to recovering funds lost to Medicaid fraud, this state ranks among the worst in the nation," said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, chair of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. Keiser is a sponsor on all three pieces of legislation.
Experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures estimate that Medicaid fraud amounts to between 3 and 10 percent of total Medicaid expenditures. Washington spent $8.5 billion on Medicaid last year, only to recover about $20 million in fraud.
“There’s plenty more we could be doing,” said Keiser. “That’s why the health committee is moving forward a series of proposals designed to increase our recoveries and reduce the occurrence of fraud in the first place.”
Senate Bill 5978 would provide incentives and whistleblower protections to citizens, including employees, who witness fraud in the workplace. It would allow the state to receive a greater share of the fraud recovery. The bill was passed out of the committee Jan. 10.
SB 6227 would require the attorney general to establish a toll-free telephone hotline, enabling the public to report suspected Medicaid fraud as it happens. This proposal, along with SB 5978, follows through on two pieces of a reform agenda rolled out by Senate Democrats in early January. The bill was passed out of the committee Monday.
SB 6466 would change the way our state combats Medicaid fraud by focusing on prevention and early detection. The bill was passed out of the committee Thursday.
Keiser called the pack of bills a top priority.
“We have a duty to the public to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively,” said Keiser. “Together, these bills create fundamental reform that will save and recover millions of taxpayer dollars in the coming years.”
For more information, Michael Althauser, 360-786-7326