Orlando Sentinel by Christine Sexton
March 30, 2018
TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s Medicaid program has been rapped by auditors who questioned what the state got for millions of dollars spent with a company whose lobbyists included two former Republican House speakers and a former top health-care regulator.
State auditors also raised questions about how aggressive the Agency for Health Care Administration has been in trying to clamp down on fraud. The audit said the agency’s Office of Medicaid Program Integrity never forwarded leads regarding potential fraudulent activity to 11 HMOs under contract with the state.
The report released this week by the state auditor general questioned why Florida spent more than $5.5 million on an advanced data analytics system and renewed the vendor’s contract five times despite the company’s inability to include data on most people enrolled in the Medicaid program.
Between 2014 and 2017, when SAS Institute was working for the state, the company listed a cadre of well-connected Tallahassee lobbyists, including Tom Arnold, a former AHCA Secretary and Medicaid director, and former House speakers Dean Cannon and Larry Cretul.
Despite the audit findings, AHCA spokeswoman Mallory McManus said in a prepared statement that the agency believes “Florida has the best Medicaid Program Integrity unit in the nation. Combating and reporting fraud and abuse is one of our agency’s top priorities, and we work every day with our health plans, and other stakeholders to ensure this activity is properly reported and dealt with.” [READ MORE]