California Gov. Gray Davis signed an antifraud bill aimed at speeding regulators' ability to identify and punish healthcare providers caught cheating the state's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal. Phony provider claims account for $2 billion to $2.9 billion annually of the program's total annual spending of $29 billion, the bill's drafters estimated. The new law tightens eligibility standards for Medi-Cal providers and requires the state Department of Health Services and state Justice Department to hire 160 new employees to step up fraud-prevention efforts. The estimated cost was not available. About 464 employees are currently involved in antifraud efforts at an annual cost of $40 million. -- by Laura B. Benko
Calif. to increase fraud-prevention efforts
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