Lawmakers target Medicaid fraud

ATLANTA --- In an effort to stop Medicaid fraud, Senate Republicans want to put recipients' fingerprints and photographs on benefit cards.

The cards could save taxpayers as much as $100 million in fraud that could be prevented, said one Senate leader.

Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, said the legislation he is co-sponsoring with Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, was still being drafted Thursday. Introduction and assignment of a bill number and committee will come next week.

"We want to make sure that the person using the card is in fact the Medicaid recipient," Ligon said. "So it stops the transfer of cards."

When patients visit doctors or hospitals for treatment, they'll place a finger in a reading machine the state will supply. That is not only for identification but also to keep track of the time a patient is in the office, like clocking in for work.

State monitors would know something is wrong if a provider bills the state for a medical procedure that couldn't be performed in the time the patient was in the office.

A company in Blackshear, Ga., sells the technology to other states, said Senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams, R-Lyons.

Company executives convinced Williams that it has worked in other states, and Williams asked the two freshman senators to sponsor the bill.

Providers would be limited in the amount of pain-and-suffering damages a Medicaid patient could sue them for in the case of malpractice, and that limitation would likely save the doctors and hospitals money on their professional liability insurance.

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