OLYMPIA - Washington state government today gained an important new tool for pursuing Medicaid fraud through a critical piece of legislation.
Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, and Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, are the leading sponsors of Senate Bill 5978, which immediately adds a "false claims act" to Washington law and sharpens the state's Medicaid fraud-fighting efforts in a way that could recover tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent payments over the next few years.
Keiser noted Washington spent $8.5 billion on Medicaid last year, only to recover less than $25 million in fraud. At its most optimistic, the state's recovery rate tops out at less than 1 percent.
“When it comes to recovering funds lost to Medicaid fraud, our state ranks among the worst in the nation,” said Keiser, chair of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee, who helped shepherd the bill into law over the past two sessions.
“This new law will give us much-needed access to more than 100 ongoing cases of multi-state fraud around the country, to which we’ve been denied access until now. We have a duty to the public to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively. This legislation creates fundamental reform that will save and recover millions of taxpayer dollars in the coming years.”
Pflug, who serves on the Senate health-care committee and is Republican leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures estimate the cost of Medicaid fraud accounts for 3 and 10 percent of total Medicaid expenditures.
“This is a very important piece of legislation because it not only positions state government to sue for recovery in fraud cases, it also serves as a warning to those who would defraud taxpayers – because fraud ends up costing everyone in some fashion or another,” Pflug said.
“My commitment to safeguarding tax dollars includes doing what I can to take away the incentive to commit fraud and discouraging the egregious corporate schemes that have raked in hundreds of millions of dollars,” Pflug added.
Pflug also noted the measure was amended by the House of Representatives to automatically expire June 30, 2016.
“My expectation is that this new law will prove its worth right out of the gate, and a future Legislature will lift that ‘sunset’ clause before it takes effect in four years,” she said.
For more information:
Michael Althauser, Senate Democrats Communications, 360-786-7326
Eric Campbell, Senate Republican Communications, 360-786-7503