By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Sunday, ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ talked with Alabama State Representative Jim McClendon (R) from Springville about his bill, The Medicaid Fraud Reduction Act of 2013, HB 110. Rep. McClendon said that HB 110, “Is a very good bill.”
State Representative McClendon said that over the last five years the state legislature has allocated just $4.6 million to investigate Medicaid fraud. That small investment has generated $96 million in savings for the state and the federal government in identified Medicaid fraud. McClendon said the state, “Got a pretty good return,” off of the Medicaid Fraud investigations unit. If passed, HB 110 will double the resource to that office. McClendon said that the federal government is providing the state $750,000 in matching funds for every $250,000 that the state spends on investigating Medicaid Fraud. McClendon said that Medicaid fraud is across the board and involves beneficiaries, providers, and even whole offices. That is why the bill amends the powers of the Medicaid fraud investigations office to also investigate L.L.C.s and corporations. Currently the state is able to go after the individuals involved, but not the corporation as a whole that is perpetuating the fraud. This bill would change that.
McClendon said that HB 110 is backed by Governor Robert Bentley and the Alabama Medical Association. Even though the bill appears to be the third remaining item on last week’s House calendar, McClendon does not expect it to come to the floor on Tuesday or even this week. McClendon said that HB 110 is part of a package of four bills addressing Medicaid Fraud. He and Representative April Weaver (R) from Shelby County will each be carrying two of the bills. McClendon said that it is his intention to bring all four bills through the rules Committee at the same time and two of the bills are still in Committee. Rep. McClendon said that just getting the word out that the state is serious about prosecuting Medicaid fraud will decrease fraud.
Rep. McClendon said that when the bill passed in committee it passed 7 to 2 so there is opposition. However he did not understand the points of the two Democrats who voted no in committee. McClendon said that he did not expect the same level of opposition that was levied against the School Flexibility Act which was passed on Thursday.
McClendon said he expects that HB 57 (The Women’s Health and Safety Act sponsored by Mary Sue McClurkin (R) from Indian Springs) will be the next item on the House Calendar. McClendon said that HB 57 gives abortion clinics the same standards as other out patient clinics. One of the issues that HB 57 addresses is that out of state abortion doctors often perform the procedures then leave, so there is no doctor on the premises in case of complications. HB 57 requires them to be present to deal with complications and to have hospital admitting privileges. McClendon said, “I think H B 57 will be contentious.”
McClendon said that the gun bill, HB 8 (sponsored by Rep. Chip Jones) could be brought up at any time by the Chair (normally Speaker Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn). McClendon said that it was his understanding that the sponsor asked that the bill be carried over to negotiate a resolution with representatives who wanted to add amendments to the bill.
‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ asked McClendon if this this been an unusually smooth session? He replied, “Well we have had one filibuster already. It has not been smooth, but it has been productive.” McClendon said that the House Republicans have been moving the “We Dare Defend Our Rights” Agenda in a methodical manner.
The ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights’ Agenda was proposed by the Alabama Republican Caucus before the session began. The GOP has a super majority of the Alabama House.