by: Jim Bell, November 30, 2006 12:11:00 am
28 men and five women are charged with filing false Medicaid claims for a vast array of personal medical supplies, using false names, names of real people and even names of people who have died. Attorney General Greg Abbott told a news conference these people, working together and individually, stole more than seven and a half million dollars from Medicaid. Abbott detailed how one of the alleged scammers operated.
"He used the identify of senior Texans and even a mentally retarded man to bill Medicaid for supplies that he never delivered. He's accused of stealing more than $100,000 -- taxpayer dollars -- from the Medicaid system."
Abbott says the indictments came after months of investigation by the State Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. He says Medicaid is designed to be relatively easy for people to qualify for legitimately, but unfortunately, that ease of access also makes Medicaid easy to defraud. He says he's determined to keep the fraud to a minimum.
"Texas taxpayers will not tolerate criminals who steal from the Medicaid system. If you're in the process of, or even thinking about stealing Medicaid dollars, we want you to know that we're watching you, we'll find you, we'll track you down and we will arrest you."
Medicaid spends more than $15 billion a year in Texas alone, and Abbott says 10 to 15 percent of Medicaid claims are fraudulent. He says since its inception, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has recovered more than $100 million of the fraudulent claims. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.