Op eds

In the popular 1960s TV show Dragnet (perhaps America’s first realistic cop show), police Sgt. Joe Friday always cautioned witnesses he wanted “just the facts.”  The phrase “just the facts, ma’am” became an American idiom.

The following are “just the facts, ma’am” about Louisiana Medicaid fraud.

In 2008, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office, Louisiana spent $6 billion on Medicaid  (18.6% of the entire state budget).  $4.4 billion of that was federal money and $1.5 billion was state money.  In this fiscal year budget, we will spend $12.4 on Medicaid (36% of the entire state budget).  $9.1 billion is federal money and $3.3 billion is state money.

In 2012, Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama’s Director of CMS, which regulates Medicaid, testified to Congress that 10% of all Medicaid and Medicare spending was lost to waste and fraud.  https://www.economist.com/united-states/2014/05/31/the-272-billion-swindle

In 2018, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor issued a report identifying massive wasteful Medicaid spending and sharply criticized the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) for its lax monitoring of the program’s spending.  https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_07685364-796b-11e8-b831-232ef0cc7d82.html

Also in 2018, during the regular legislative session, the Louisiana Senate killed a House-passed bill that would have given the Legislative Auditor the authority to stop Medicaid fraud.  https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/legislature/article_108aef8e-589a-11e8-a739-1b5d994a2f5d.html

Talk’s cheap.  Here are actual, real-life, specific examples of Medicaid fraud identified by the Legislative Auditor:

For example, from 7/1/16 to 3/1/18, LDH paid $9,375 in Medicaid benefits for Recipient 3 in the chart above.  During that time, Recipient 3 had income of $311,069.

Americans will happily pay for your doctor if you are too poor to be sick.  I’m proud of that.  But I’m neither happy about nor proud of the Medicaid fraud tolerated by LDH.