New Jersey hoping an amnesty approach on Medicaid fraud might work

(Big Stock image)

(Big Stock image)

New Jersey is trying a pilot program that will allow Ocean County residents who fraudently obtained Medicaid to avoid prosecution if they’re willing to pay what they owe plus an additional fine.

State comptroller Phil Degnan said the recent arrests of 26 Lakewood residents for public assistance fraud got him thinking about what kind of program to offer.

“It’s available to anyone from Ocean County. A lot of the press and publicity has been about Lakewood. But this is certainly not a Lakewood focused program. Medicaid fraud is an issue throughout the state so I have no reason to believe that there aren’t people outside of Lakewood that would be able to take advantage.”

Those already arrested aren’t eligible for the program.

Degnan said if applicants repay Medicaid for the benefits they received while ineligible and pay an additional penalty, their cases won’t be referred to the county prosecutor’s office.

“But we do advise them that their settlement agreements will be referred to both New Jersey Taxation and the Social Security Administration for any additional actions that may be warranted.”

Degnan says if the pilot program is a success, it could be offered in other counties.

“We’ll make sure that it’s been effective and well run. And if we feel like there are other counties that might benefit from this type of program, we’ll certainly explore the possibility of rolling it out in another county or two.”

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