Missouri Governor Mike Parson, R, has announced the creation of a Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Task Force. He says safeguarding the integrity of the state’s Medicaid program is vital.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson (at podium) announces the creation of a Medicaid fraud task force on December 7, 2018. Incoming Attorney General Eric Schmitt (left) and State Medicaid Director Todd Richardson (right) joined him (Brian Hauswirth photo)

The governor was joined at the Statehouse announcement on Friday by incoming Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, who says the program is intended for Missouri’s most vulnerable.

“Whether it’s the elderly veteran that’s receiving those (Medicaid) benefits or a disabled individual, it’s intended for them and it’s not intended for fraudsters. It’s not intended for criminals,” Schmitt says.

Missouri’s Medicaid program involves more than $10 billion of Missouri’s $28 billion operating budget.

Schmitt is expected to take over as attorney general on January 3.

The program, which is officially known as MO HealthNet, has a new director. Former House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, was appointed by Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) Director Steve Corsi, and began the new job on November 1.

Richardson says Governor Parson wants the Show-Me State to be a national leader in addressing Medicaid fraud. Richardson, who also participated in Friday’s announcement, says this will be an important part of his office’s efforts.

“Our responsibility as stewards of taxpayer dollars is to make sure that every single one of those tax dollars is being treated like we would treat our own,” says Richardson.

He reiterates his focus is on having a sustainable program that produces better health outcomes, rather than expanding the program. Richardson also emphasizes that preventing Medicaid fraud is a top priority.

“We intend to lead the nation in making sure that our Medicaid program has integrity, and that we are preventing and prosecuting every bit of fraud that happens in the system,” he says.

Missourinet asked Richardson if his office has enough investigators to look for Medicaid fraud. Richardson says they’ll be examining their resources, both in terms of people and technology.

Parson says task force members will work to find ways to prevent fraud through data analytics and deterrence measures.

About 935,000 Missourians are currently on Medicaid, and there are about 60,000 MO HealthNet-enrolled healthcare providers.

Outgoing Attorney General Josh Hawley says Medicaid fraud investigations have led to criminal charges in 29 cases during the past two years.

The Missouri Attorney General’s office has a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. You can report Medicaid fraud to that unit by calling 1-800-286-3932.

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