In 1969, I had already finished my studies at NYU Dental School and had served two years in the Air Force, Being young and enthusiastic, I just couldn’t wait to move my young family into Great Neck and to finally fulfill my life-long dream of opening my own dental practice.
But what about those patients who could not afford to be treated at my New Hyde Park office? Where could they go? I was so happy to hear that New York State had finally started the Medicaid Program, a modest attempt at providing comprehensive healthcare for indigent patients. It even included dental treatment.
In the 1960’s it was called “welfare.” Today, it’s labeled an “entitlement” program. Call it anything you want. At least now those needy patients could be treated by the few dentists who would accept a fraction of their usual fee or at the dental department of some of our local hospitals.
Even in our wealthy community, there was a need for these services. So for twenty years, myself, as well as many other local dentists, anonymously volunteered our professional services, one afternoon a week, free of charge, treating Medicaid patients and teaching our dental techniques to the young dental residents at Long Island Jewish-Hillside Hospital.
Unfortunately, it’s now obvious to everyone that Medicaid is bankrupting both New York City and New York State. Its costs have skyrocketed and it has been transformed into a permanent, multi-billion dollar industry, which has radically deviated from its original, temporary, philanthropic intent.
And to make matters even worse, 45 years later, fraudulent Medicaid practices still exist. Every week, we see someone doing the “perp-walk,” and being led out in handcuffs. Finally, New York City has admitted that the problem existed and is actually doing something about it.
Since 2006, New York City’s Human Resources Administration has been given the job of identifying these fraudulent practices. Specifically targeted were pharmacies, transportation, and mental-health providers. Way to go, HRA! Protect the taxpayers and clean up the system.
But there is just one “minor” problem! Please, if governmental incompetency really bothers you, please stop reading now! You have been duly warned.
NYC’s Human Services Administration has, since 2006, spent $15.6 million (that’s million with an “M”) of our tax-payer dollars, completing their audits. They were investigating $25 billion dollars of Medicaid expenditures (that’s billion dollars, with a “B”). Considering that they were investigating such a huge sum of money, everyone just assumed that a great deal of uncovered fraudulent savings would be forthcoming to the tax payer. How could they miss? Six years of study!
OK, what did they come up with? Take a guess! It was really quite startling when our “top team” of New York City CPA’s published their report. They managed to uncover $11 million dollars of fraud! Really? Wait a minute! We paid them $15.6 million dollars to uncover $11 million dollars of fraud? Since 2006? In six years? We actually LOST more than $4 million dollars by conducting these audits in the first place.
Amazingly, it would have been cheaper for us to just allow the bad guys to continue stealing our money rather than actually trying to find them .
Does the fraud really exist? Of course!
Was NYC’s Human Services Administration just incompetent? What do you think?
As State Senator Marty Goldman said: “we really didn’t get a good return on our investment.”
What an understatement!