New York’s Medicaid program, once a beacon of the Great Society era, has become so huge, so complex and so lightly policed that it is easily exploited, the New York Times reports in the first of a series of stories. “It’s like a honey pot,” said a former Medicaid fraud prosecutor. It was created 40 years ago to provide health care for the poorest New Yorkers, offering a lifeline to those who could not afford to have a baby or a heart attack. But in the decades since, New York State’s Medicaid program has also become a $44.5 billion target for the unscrupulous and the opportunistic.
It has drawn dentists like Dr. Dolly Rosen, who within 12 months built the state’s biggest Medicaid dental practice out of a Brooklyn storefront, where she claimed to have performed as many as 991 procedures a day in 2003. School officials around the state have enrolled tens of thousands of low-income students in speech therapy without the required evaluation, garnering more than $1 billion in questionable Medicaid payments for their districts. A computer analysis of several million records obtained under the state Freedom of Information Law revealed numerous indications of fraud and abuse that the state had never looked into, the Times reported.