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Andrew Cuomo Plans Crackdown on Medicaid Fraud

by Benjamin Domenech on March 20, 2011

The New York Post reports today that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to crack down on a particular type of Medicaid fraud, viewed as an out of control problem in New York state.

About 8,400 patients receiving home-care services could be booted from the Medicaid rolls for failing to fully disclose family income, under a crackdown by Gov. Cuomo, The Post has learned.

Cuomo’s tough-love spending plan abolishes the so-called “spousal refusal” provision that enables wealthier New Yorkers to qualify for Medicaid. State Health Department officials said the elimination would save taxpayers $56 million in the upcoming fiscal year and $113 million in 2012-13.

Under current law, residents applying for home- care services often transfer assets to a spouse or other relatives in order to qualify for Medicaid. A spouse or other family member living with the home-care patient then refuses to make his or her income available to contribute to the costs of the service, thus sticking Medicaid, and, therefore, taxpayers, with the tab. Under the Cuomo plan, the income of the entire household must be included when applying for Medicaid home-care services to determine eligibility.

“We’re the only state in the country that allows spousal refusal for home-care services,” said state Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson.

New York has been home to several prominent incidents of millionaires bilking Medicaid out of millions in taxpayer dollars. Here’s one such story:

A millionaire Long Island husband and wife — living in a $2.2 million mansion — were nabbed for pretending to be paupers, ripping off Medicaid to the tune of $33,000, authorities said.

Dalia Mairzadeh, 45, of tony Old Westbury, was sporting a fur-trimmed suede coat when she and hubby Daniel, 45, were picked up yesterday and slapped with charges of grand larceny and welfare fraud…

While claiming to Nassau County social services to be dirt poor, the couple lived in style at the sprawling, 2-acre modern estate, which features a swimming pool, a pond and a fountain. A Mercedes was out front yesterday.

The Mairzadehs allegedly faked documents claiming they rented their spread, and face up to seven years behind bars, said Nassau DA Kathleen Rice.

Great work, if you can get it.

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