July | August 2017



New Jersey Considers Smart Cards to Fight Medicaid Fraud

Lawmakers in New Jersey are considering the potential of smart card technology to combat Medicaid fraud, NJSpotlight.com reports. The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee released a bill, A-4062/S-2894, that would establish a pilot program testing the effectiveness of smart cards in improper billings to the federal and state joint health care program.
If passed, the pilot program would issue smart cards to Medicaid recipients. The cards would store patients’ medical records on a flash drive that health care providers could access using a computer’s USB drive. The program would give health care providers instant access to patient records, allowing them to identify and stop fraudulent activity before it occurs.
By contrast, current efforts to address Medicaid fraud often rely on responses to fraudulent activity that already has taken place.
The bill requires the smart card to authenticate the identity of both the patient and the health care provider in an effort to prevent both patient- and provider-based fraud.
Some policymakers have expressed concerns about the ability of such smart cards to protect patients’ information if the cards are lost or stolen. Representatives of the companies that produce the smart cards, however, indicate the cards contain security features to prevent patient information from being improperly accessed.
A 2011 bill passed by North Carolina lawmakers established a similar pilot program in that state.
Connecticut has collected $175 million in back taxes through the most successful amnesty program in the state’s history. According to The Courant of Hartford, 665 corporations paid $91.3 million in back taxes, more than 5,000 individuals paid personal income taxes totaling $21.4 million and another 2,600 taxpayers paid $55.5 million in sales and use tax debts owed to the state. The largest single payment received through the program was $20 million.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced New York will invest $225 million to develop a high-tech manufacturing complex that will focus on clean energy in Buffalo. The Associated Press reports that the Buffalo High Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub initially will house two California-based companies—Soraa, an LED lighting manufacturer, and Silevo, a solar power company—and will employ 850 people. The project is part of a 2012 pledge made by Cuomo to invest $1 billion in the area’s economy.
A bipartisan group of legislators in Pennsylvania have created a caucus to address homelessness as part of a larger initiative to explore poverty in the state, PennLive.com reports. Reps. Dave Reed and Vanessa Lowery Brown formed the House Homelessness Caucus to focus on the issue and advocate for policies to combat homelessness among Pennsylvanians. In addition, House members have filed a resolution to create a task force and advisory commission tasked with undertaking a comprehensive, two-year study on homelessness in the state.
A Tax Expenditure Review Task Force in Maine has proposed a 5.5 percent tax on “amusements” to help fill a $40 million budget gap. The proposed tax would apply to admission fees to movies, concerts, amusement parks, festivals and zoos, as well as such sporting and outdoor activities as golfing, skiing and sightseeing; it is expected to yield $20 million in revenues, the Bangor Daily News reports. The task force also has proposed assessments on personal care services, which could result in another $20 million in revenues.
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has called for a “celebration of progress” in recognition of the state’s expansion of high-speed Internet. Shumlin said all but 3,000 addresses across the state now have access to broadband Internet, the Burlington Free Press reports. In three years, the percentage of high-speed Internet coverage has increased from 89 percent to 99 percent, with 30,000 addresses adding service during that time. A website, www.broadbandvt.org, shows coverage throughout the state, though some residents in areas shown as having coverage dispute the quality and speed of the service.