Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsNews

Bill targets anti-fraud requirement in home aid program

Sponsors in the Legislature say aspects of measures imposed two years ago are too cumbersome and expensive to administer. Republicans say malfeasance in the program justifies the requirements.

May 20, 2011|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento -- Lawmakers moved Thursday to repeal anti-fraud measures imposed on the state's home health aid program for the elderly, ill and disabled, two years after The Times reported that the program was riddled with cheaters.

Some legislators said a requirement that caregivers provide fingerprints on their time sheets and a ban on payments sent to post office boxes are too cumbersome and expensive to administer.

"This bill would … save the state over $41 million a year," said state Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa). "Very, very, very little fraud has been found."

Republican senators opposed the measure, saying there is anecdotal evidence of malfeasance in the program, which pays workers to provide personal care, housekeeping and transportation for about 456,400 low-income people.

"Now the idea to solve the problem is to make it easier for people to swindle the taxpayers of California?"asked Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego).

Less than 1% of the 24,000 cases reviewed each year are found to involve fraud, according to the California State Assn. of Counties and the County Welfare Directors Assn. There are other anti-fraud programs, and the fingerprinting bill is costly to counties that help pay for it, said Erin Treadwell, a spokeswoman for the former group.

"These are efforts we don't deem necessary or prudent in these fiscal times," Treadwell said.

Investigations of the program last year resulted in 51 complaints referred to prosecutors by the state. In addition, counties last year helped the state identify $4.5 million in overpayments attributed to fraud or error, including more than $1 million in Los Angeles County.

A state analysis estimated that overpayments represent about one-tenth of 1% of the $5.7 billion spent last year on In-Home Supportive Services.

Republicans noted that the anti-fraud measures were agreed to as part of a budget deal in 2009.

"This [new] bill makes no sense," said Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville). "I don't know why we are reversing safeguards that make sure taxpayer dollars are spent in the right way."

The bill, SB 930, now goes to the Assembly.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|