By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, another plank of the Alabama House Republican Caucus’s “We Dare Defend Our Rights” Agenda passed in the Alabama House of Representatives. The Medicaid Fraud Reduction Act of 2013, HB 110, was sponsored by Alabama State Representative Jim McClendon (R) from Springville.
The ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ talked with Rep. McClendon on Thursday following the passage of the bill. McClendon said that after an hour and a half of debate, the bill passed 92 to 0. Rep. McClendon said, “I love bringing these nonpartisan bills to the legislature.”
McClendon said in a prepared statement, “Abusing a program that provides essential health care to the neediest citizens among us is the ultimate insult to Alabama taxpayers. By extending the statute of limitations and providing additional investigative tools to law enforcement agencies, the Medicaid Fraud Reduction Act will force even the most dishonest individual to think twice before trying to take advantage of the system.”
Speaker of the Alabama House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said on Facebook, “The Medicaid Fraud Reduction Act passed the House today with a unanimous vote. This important legislation will help reduce the cases of fraud, abuse and misuse in a program that is intended to help our neediest citizens. Thank you to House Health Committee Chairman Jim McClendon (R-Springville) for sponsoring this bill.”
On Tuesday McClendon announced to the full House that a substitute Medicaid Fraud bill would be introduced in the House on Thursday. McClendon told ‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ that some changes made where parts of it were overlapping with another bill that is still in Committee. McClendon said that by deleting some sections of the bill and rewriting parts of the bill they made it a pure Medicaid bill. McClendon said that the changes, “Made it a more succinct bill” McClendon said that the changes were announced on Tuesday to give members plenty of time to review the bill so there were no surprises.
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 both Governor Robert Bentley (R) and the Alabama Medical Association. He and Representative April Weaver (R) from Shelby County have been working with Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Medical Association to come up with legislation to address the problem of Medicaid fraud. The bill now goes to the Senate and if it passes there will go on to the Governor’s office.
Rep. McClendon said that just getting the word out that the state is serious about prosecuting Medicaid fraud will decrease fraud.