Tighten the rules to stop Medicaid fraud

July 12, 2013 

Federal prosecutors charged 15 metro-east people with fraud related to Illinois' Medicaid Home Services Program, but the bigger news was U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton's indictment of the program itself.

Some crooks are always going to try to scam government programs, but it sounds as if Illinois has done little to guard against that in this program. No surprise, then, that the program isn't accomplishing its purpose.

"We have seen dozens of instances in which the state of Illinois paid for ghost employees and fictitious services. Except for one case, payments from the state of Illinois did not keep anyone out of an institutional setting," Wigginton said.

And in that one case, the lack of institutional care led to the woman's death.

Gov. Pat Quinn just signed a new law that's supposed to better protect disabled adults living at home from physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. But the problems identified by Wigginton go beyond that. I some cases caregivers were getting money to care for people who had moved to other states, were in jail or were fictitious.

Wigginton will prosecute the 15 people indicted for fraud -- including Darron S. Suggs, a Washington Park trustee and St. Clair County employee. But what is the state going to do to tighten up this program?

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