Kansans should applaud the sentiment expressed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt in a recent press release about his office’s efforts to reduce Medicaid fraud in the state.
“We take seriously,” he said, “our responsibility to ensure that every dollar spent by the Kansas Medicaid program is used to provide legitimate services to Kansans in need.”
Eliminating fraud is a good first step. Schmidt notes that his office recovered more than $33 million in taxpayer funds through its Medicaid fraud enforcement in the fiscal year that ended June 30. The previous one-year high for such efforts was $28 million in fiscal year 2011.
During 2013, the attorney general’s office collected $2.3 million in restitution in 14 criminal cases of fraud and recovered $16.3 million through civil judgments and $15.1 million through participation in national settlements.
There are a couple of reasons that eliminating Medicaid fraud could be even more important in Kansas than in other states. First, Kansas has some of the nation’s toughest income standards to qualify for Medicaid. Unless they are disabled, adults without children cannot qualify for Medicaid assistance in Kansas regardless of their income level. Families with children must have an income below 35 percent of the federal poverty level in order to qualify; that’s $6,000 to $8,000 a year for a family of four. State officials have chosen not to accept federal funding to extend Medicaid benefits to thousands of additional Kansans.
It’s vital, as Schmidt indicates, that every dollar allocated for Medicaid go to the Kansans who need that assistance.
The state’s decision to turn down federal funds to expand Medicaid has been a matter of considerable debate in the state. There should be no debate, however, over the need to make sure every Medicaid dollar in Kansas goes to help families who depend on that assistance. The attorney general’s efforts to curb Medicaid fraud help further that goal.