Medicaid Expansion May Prevent Fraud More Effectively

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Lincoln, Neb.-- Medicaid fraud is a problem nationally and in Nebraska.

In 2013, the state spent $1.8 billion, and were able to recover $13.5 million in fraudulently spent monies.

Lawmakers will soon debate a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage to about 50,000 Nebraskans, people that fall below a specific poverty line.

"The people falling in the gap are hard working people," Jeremy Nordquist, an Omaha senator, said.

"Their income is so low, it's a quirk in the law that they don't get any coverage at all."

If lawmakers approved expansion, Attorney General Jon Bruning said if more Medicaid dollars are coming in, it presumably would leave more room for fraud, something that's been a concern nationally.

"Regardless of what they decide," Bruning said, "it's important that there is a Medicaid fraud control unit in place to keep an eye, and make sure, the tax dollars are being used for the purposes they're intended."

Nordquist said one provision in the proposed bill would bring private insurance companies in to Medicaid coverage.

"I think by bringing the private sector in on this bill to cover," Nordquist said, "more Nebraskans will be able to prevent fraud more effectively."

Bruning's Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Unit has recovered 77 million dollars in fraud in the last ten years.

"We're a watchdog on the street," Bruning said, "that's our goal. If they're gonna send you Medicaid dollars, you gotta do it by the book."

Nationally, millions of dollars are recovered in Medicaid criminal and civil cases.

Bruning said regardless of what happens to Medicaid expansion, his fraud unit will be able to adapt.