by Max Brantley
At the top of today's hypocrisy watch is a proposed piece of legislation from Sen. David Sanders and Rep. Bruce Westerman. It would create a new bureaucracy to root out Medicaid fraud. It's focused on the recipient end, not the service provider. It is mostly about fingerprinting Medicaid recipients so that they must prove their IDs through a scanner when they seek medical services.
To date, most findings of significant Medicaid fraud are on the provider side — cheating hospitals, cheating drug companies, cheating doctors, unnecessary procedures, drugs used for non-indicated uses, fraudulent billing that sort of thing. But Republicans are sure the real fraud is a poor person seeing a doctor for a sinus infection who isn't duly qualified for the state's sympathy. Expansion of Medicaid to near universal coverage will make a new bureaucracy to install fingerprint scanners and all the other expensive stuff envisioned here even more irrelevant. But never mind that. New indignities for poor, working people and obstacles to public rights and services (be it voting or medical care) is part of the New Republican Order.
You don't suppose Sanders and Westerman know somebody who'd like to sell the state all this newfangled equipment, do you? Or some pals who'll run this new state agency? The state and federal government have existing means to combat fraud, by the way. This effort should begin with some believable demonstration of the need to first target sick people, not the providers where most of the money goes.
UPDATE: This bill smells of ALEC cookie cutter legislation and, sure enough, here's a look at use of the "smart cards" in other states. Barriers to participation. Ineffective in reducing fraud. But will create device sales for somebody and some new jobs for Republican hacks.
AND SPEAKING OF WORKING PEOPLE: A bill to repeal the state prevailing wage bill — which sets a pay standard on state building projects somewhat akin to federal prevailing wage law on federal projects — was defeated on a roll call vote after lengthy debate in the House Public Health Committee. Democrats hold a majority on this committee, if you're wondering how that happened. The bill got eight votes, needing 11.