Medicaid Fraud Rampant In Fla.
|By Rockwell, Lilly|
"We have so many vacant positions that can be filled," Bondi told
Varnado's report ultimately confirmed what Bondi says she saw in
For criminals like
"People don't want to know how bad it is. The amount of money stolen, wasted or abused in the system is frighteningly had," Varnado says.
Just as bad - the state's efforts at combatting the fraud have had a history of futility for decades. The unit has been the target of state audits, reform bills by
Today, the state spends
The results? Florida
Bondi isn't the first
So far, Bondi hasn't taken any more dramatic steps than her predecessors, and Varnado acknowledges there will be "no radical departure" in how the state investigates
A flawed system
In addition, the fraud-fighting effort in
Meanwhile, there are other structural issues, including the lack of prosecutors on the fraud unit's investigative teams.
start from scratch to understand the case
Another weakness in the system involves the skills and priorities of the fraud unit's investigative personnel.
Simply hiring more skilled investigators isn't easy. Experienced white-collar crime investigators typically find better pay and benefits with federal agencies. "It's difficult to hire qualified investigators in south
In addition, the reports required by both the federal and state governments focus on the raw numbers of arrests and convictions, leading to an emphasis of quantity over quality. Last year, for example, an employee of a
What might make a bigger dent in
Giving the fraud unit more training and investigative resources might help. The fraud unit has struggled to aggressively mine
Moye is among those who think that the personnel changes need to go deeper than the top managers.
Opinions differ on whether a shift by the state to a managed care system for
Bondi says it will "take time" for her changes - so far, she's hired seven more investigators - to yield results. Meanwhile, the thievery continues: In August, Bondi announced the arrest of an
Florida Medicaid Numbers
> Enrollment: 3.3 million
> Total Medicaid Expenditures:
> Fraud: No one knows for sure how much fraud costs the government but estimates range from 3% and 10% of total
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