Medicaid Report Finds Some Fraud; Bigger Problem is Data Sharing

Mar 13, 2013

Governor Lincoln Chafee has released a new report on Medicaid fraud. Lawmakers and citizen groups had been pressuring Chafee to make the report public.

Secretary Steven Costantino, left, and Director Sandra Powell, far right, at a Wednesday press conference on the Ken Block report.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

And, after declining for fear of jeopardizing fraud investigations, Chafee finally released the report, along with several proposed anti-fraud bills and a timeline of his administration’s efforts over the past few years to crack down on corruption.  

Independent consultant Ken Block reviewed public assistance records for signs of abuse. And he uncovered some possible instances of fraud in the food stamp program and possible waste in other programs like community health center dental clinics. Human services department director Sandra Powell says the real takeaway is the need to improve the way state agencies share information and mine data.

“In order to beat the scammers, we have to work smarter. We have to put together information and data that allows us to see patterns and address them," said Powell.

Block’s firm was able to collect data from some state agencies and marry it with publicly available data to perform an analysis the state’s computer systems are too antiquated to handle. The Office of Health and Human Services is in the process of acquiring several new computer systems. One current system- the one used to check a participant's eligibility for public assistance -  is 25 years old.