The problem with making financial aid easier to get is that doing so also makes it easier for fraudsters to get their grubby paws on money meant for the poor. This is an issue that Illinois is trying to deal with [Medicaid fraud], even if the federal government has not directly approved such a move.
The Director of Illinois’ Healthcare and Family Services, Julie Hamos, wrote to a federal Medicaid officer saying “we are moving forward to implement new procedures that are essential to the integrity of our programs.”
The agency now plans to compare the addresses of Medicaid recipients to their driver’s license records to check whether they indeed live in Illinois or not. Another plan to check whether recipients are truly eligible to receive Medicaid is on the way.1
Republicans are quick to blame Illinois’ woes on the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act2, with Senator Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, saying that the provisions of the Act are “standing in the way of trying to root out fraud and abuse here in Illinois.” This is a direct attack on the current health care access law forbidding states from making things more difficult for low-income families to receive Medicaid coverage.
Political swipes aside, the state of Illinois does have a pretty serious problem with potential fraud. Hamos’ letter states that 6% of all medical information cards – approximately 6,000 – were returned as the intended recipient was shown to have an out-of-state address. This is just one method of detecting fraud, which Republicans say could cost Illinois hundreds of millions of dollars.
If the intended reforms could correctly identify frauds and make sure that Medicaid goes to people who qualify for Medicaid, then it should definitely pass the cut. If it is merely an excuse to save money by denying low-income families Medicaid coverage, then the provisions of the reforms need to be better analyzed by the federal government before giving the green light.