A New Jersey pilot program will allow Ocean County residents who believe they improperly received Medicaid benefits to withdraw from the program without fear of criminal prosecution.
State comptroller Phil Degnan says the recent arrests of 26 Lakewood residents for public assistance fraud got him thinking about what kind of program to offer.
"It's available to anyone from Ocean County. A lot of the press and publicity has been about Lakewood. But this is certainly not a Lakewood focused program. Medicaid fraud is an issue throughout the state so I have no reason to believe that there aren't people outside of Lakewood that would be able to take advantage."
Those already arrested aren't eligible for the program.
Degnan says if applicants repay Medicaid for the benefits they received while ineligible and pay an additional penalty, their cases won’t be referred to the county prosecutor’s office.
“But we do advise them that their settlement agreements will be referred to both New Jersey Taxation and the Social Security Administration for any additional actions that may be warranted.”
Degnan says if the pilot program is a success, it could be offered in other counties.
“We’ll make sure that it’s been effective and well run. And if we feel like there are other counties that might benefit from this type of program, we’ll certainly explore the possibility of rolling it out in another county or two.”