By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama State Senate has passed a bill that increase penalties for fraud in taxpayer funded public assistance programs. The bill, SB 152, is sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr (R) fromDecatur). SB 152 makes it a criminal offense to defraud state and federal funded public assistance programs. The programs affected include Medicaid, Food Stamps, Social Security, Medicare, and many others.
Senator Arthur Orr said that the state of Alabama is losing $millions in healthcare fraud and abuse alone. Sen. Orr said, “The state literally cannot afford to continue turning a blind eye to fraud and abuse in taxpayer-funded public assistance programs.” “Government programs have apparently been seen as easy targets because of lack of enforcement or insignificant penalties for violating the law. This legislation changes that and will protect taxpayer resources from deceptive schemes to cheat the system.”
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston said, “Now more than ever we have to make sure that tax dollars are being spent responsibly and Senator Orr’s legislation does that by putting an end to fraud and abuse.” “I also appreciate members of the Senate working together in a bipartisan manner to pass this bill without opposition.”
SB152 passed the Senate unanimously 31-0 and has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee.
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget estimates that Medicare and Medicaid made an estimated $23.7 billion in improper payments in 2007. These included $10.8 billion for Medicare and $12.9 billion for Medicaid.
Some states have created Medicaid Fraud Control Units to combat rampant fraud and abuse of the Medicaid system. Medicaid is the most expensive program in the Alabama General Fund.