Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding

Let there be no mistake about it, the bill passed by the Senate today (S.6872) is a charade, clearly motivated by political gamesmanship rather that an effort to achieve meaningful, substantive reform.

The two most important ways to enhance our Medicaid fraud laws are through the adoption of a Martin Act for Health Care and a False Claims Act. The Senate bill adopts neither of these essential reforms.

The Martin Act for Health Care would give my office the type of investigatory powers that we have used so effectively to address wrongdoing in the financial industry. The False Claims Act would provide an incentive for individuals to disclose ongoing frauds.

Together, these two proposals will greatly enhance the State's ability to uncover, investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud, and recover stolen taxpayer dollars. The Senate's failure to adopt these reforms is inexcusable.

Instead, the Senate has added completely toothless "Health Care Fraud" crimes, which contain huge loopholes that criminals can easily exploit to avoid prosecution.

Indeed, earlier this week, Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark, the President of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, stated that "the new crimes, as drafted, would not offer any significant help to us in prosecuting those engaged in health care fraud." The fact that the Senate passed this proposal, even after being told that it is useless, demonstrates that they are not committed to addressing this problem.

The other major so-called "reform" in the Senate bill is the creation of the Medicaid Inspector General's Office, but Governor Pataki has created this office by Executive Order last year, so this change similarly will do little to reduce Medicaid fraud.

In short, this bill is not reform. We can and must do better.