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Vitale ‘New Jersey False Claims Act’ Approved By Budget Panel

TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the Senate Budget Committee’s approval, by a vote of 14-0, of a bill he sponsored entitled the “New Jersey Medicaid False Claims Act,” to crack down on fraud and abuse within the Medicaid program:

“Whatever the economic climate, it is imperative that we seek to eliminate waste and fraud in government to ensure that the services we offer are not tainted by unethical abuses, or over-inflated by those seeking to make a wrongful profit at the expense of the taxpayer.

“Through the ‘Medicaid False Claims Act,’ we will have a powerful tool to help us better oversee New Jersey’s Medicaid system, and recover money that was wrongly paid out of the program to profiteers abusing the public trust.

“The bill provides whistleblower protections and incentives to come forward with any information of wrongdoing regarding the Medicaid health care system. If someone knowingly acts, or conspires to act, to take advantage of Medicaid, we want to know about it, and will take steps to recover misspent funds.

“Under this legislation, the Attorney General would have the authority to pursue civil action against those looking to defraud the State’s safety-net health care programs.

“The bill also makes New Jersey eligible for federal incentives to expose Medicaid fraud that were established under the federal ‘Deficit Reduction Act.’ With the federal law, New Jersey stands to recover 10 percent of the federal contribution towards Medicaid, in addition to the full 100 percent of the State contribution.”

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