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Gillibrand eyes crackdown on Medicaid, Medicare fraud

WASHINGTON - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Wednesday will introduce a bill to crack down on Medicaid and Medicare fraud, a problem that each year costs New York State $5 billion, including about $755 million on Long Island, an aide said Monday.

The proposed bill would double criminal penalties for fraud, toughen fraud prevention and set up a five-year pilot program to verify Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement claims.

"By creating more transparency and more accountability in Medicare and Medicaid, we can save taxpayer money and protect services for seniors and people who need them," Gillibrand said in a statement.

Medicaid and Medicare fraud is estimated at $80 billion a year nationally. The federal government has identified New York City, Miami and Los Angeles as high fraud areas.

A similar bill, without the pilot program, has been introduced in the House.

Gillibrand's bill would double criminal penalties for making false statements on Medicaid or Medicare claims from $25,000 to $50,000 in fines and from five to 10 years in jail.

For equipment suppliers and service providers considered risky, the bill would require criminal background checks, fingerprinting and random site visits to prevent fraud. It also would require the government to create a five-year pilot program to establish a process to verify beneficiary's reimbursements.

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