Lawfuel – The Law Newswire – New legislation will enable Medicaid Frau…

Lawfuel – The Law Newswire – New legislation will enable Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to recover greater damage.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today praised the
Florida House and Senate for the passage of an important piece of
legislation which, when signed into law, will mirror the Federal False
Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows the Attorney General’s Medicaid
Fraud Control Unit to recover triple damages in civil lawsuits against
those who commit Medicaid Fraud.

“Those who exploit and defraud our Medicaid program steal critical
health care dollars from those who desperately need these services. Once
signed into law, this legislation will not only strengthen our enforcement
tools but more importantly, will return millions of dollars in Medicaid
resources to the elderly, the disadvantaged and others in need,” said
Attorney General Bill McCollum. “I commend the Legislature for passing this
important legislation which will assist our state combat Medicaid fraud and
punish those who selfishly cheat the system.”

“It is imperative that we preserve scarce resources for Florida’s
most vulnerable citizens, which is why AARP is supportive of the Attorney
General’s efforts to combat Medicaid fraud through this legislation,” said
State Director Lori Parham, AARP Florida.

This legislation will increase the recovery for Florida by 10 percent
on all civil actions. In 2005, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit secured over
$76 million in settlements for Florida’s consumers. Nearly the entire
amount was recovered through the use of the False Claims Act.

Under Federal law, all states that participate in the Medicaid
program must also have a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Florida’s Medicaid
Fraud Control Unit is operated by the Office of the Attorney General and is
a joint Federal-State funded law enforcement agency. The unit, working with
the Agency of Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) Bureau of Medicaid
Program Integrity, investigates and seeks prosecution for criminal fraud
and is empowered to “seek any civil remedy provided by law.”

“This bill will give Florida more tools and will bring more resources
to fight Medicaid fraud,” said Rep. Clay Ford (R-Pensacola), House sponsor
of the bill. “I am honored that the first bill that I have passed as a
member of the Legislature is to help Attorney General McCollum protect our
Medicaid program from fraudulent schemes.”

“By increasing the penalties against those who commit Medicaid fraud,
we are sending a strong message that we will not tolerate the theft of
Medicaid dollars from Floridians who need health care,” said Senate sponsor
Steve Oelrich (R-Gainesville).

The bill now goes to Governor Charlie Crist to be signed into law.

# # #
Office of the Attorney General
Bill McCollum
Attorney General of Florida

[email protected]

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