HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) — This week, Republicans in the state House announced legislation to target wasteful spending and fraud. They say ineligible recipients for some state programs are costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
“Pennsylvania is facing a structural deficit,” said House Appropriations Committee Republican Chair Seth Grove (R-York), adding that the state is also experiencing a demographic crisis. “Our population continues to age and workforce continues to shrink.”
Grove and House Republicans are looking to make state programs like Medicaid more efficient instead of raising taxes.
“We cannot tax our way out of this crisis,” said Grove. “Because of federal mandates, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has 630,000 to 1.2 million people under Medicaid rolls who are potentially ineligible,” Grove added.
“Over the last 23 years, we have seen a decline in population, yet we have seen an increase in Medicaid by 2.4 million participants,” said Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford).
Owlett says ineligible Medicaid recipients are a growing concern and are costing the Commonwealth.
“725,000 people, and that’s a conservative estimate, of how many people in Pennsylvania are receiving Medicaid even though they are not eligible,” said Owlett. “The government is responsible to taxpayers who foot the bill for that safety net, and to stop bad actors who are trying to game the system, taking resources away from people who truly need them, and from the people who are working hard to provide for their families,” said Owlett.
“These ineligible recipients cost $500 million to over $1 billion a year to our taxpayers,” said Grove.
House Republicans plan to reintroduce a package of bills that mirror federal programs and laws like the Federal False Claims Act. It would allow Pennsylvania to recoup an additional ten-percent from false claims made against Medicaid during national settlements.
“This is an important bill to ensure that our programs are run efficiently and dollars are spent for our most needy, not siphoned off through fraudulent actors,” said Grove.
Another bill in the package seeks to create the National Provider Identification Number.
“Medicaid providers should be held to a high standard of accountability,” said Rep. Mike Cabell (R-Luzerne) who plans to introduce the bill. “Tracking who provided what services should be easy. By simply requiring a national or state provider identification number, we can achieve this,” he added.
Additionally, legislation by Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny), will mirror the Federal Improper Payment law, requiring agencies to review their programs and expenditures and their susceptibility to improper payments.
Some of the bills passed the House in prior sessions with bipartisan support, but never made it across the finish line in the Senate. House Republicans are hoping for a better outcome this session.