Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Capitol campus is recovering from the winter storm last week which included power outages and downed trees. The work of the Legislature continues and below is an update on some of the things I have been working on. You may also find my video update from last week here or by clicking on the picture to the right.
My Legislation and Solutions: Eliminate fraud in Medicare/Medicaid
Medicare fraud, waste and abuse are becoming a larger issue in our society. A 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office stated Medicare made $48 billion in “improper payments.” Although Medicare is a national issue, it is an indicator of the fraud taking place on the state Medicaid side. Medicare/Medicaid thieves come in all sizes – doctors, petty thieves and even organized crime are stealing from these systems.
I have proposed House Bill 2571, legislation I have been working on closely with individuals from both sides of the aisle and governor's office, to put a stop to this behavior. Conservative estimates say my bill would save somewhere between $5 million and $20 million dollars, but perhaps more. State lawmakers are also looking at other ways to eliminate waste and fraud in state government, and I will share some of these solutions with you in future legislative briefs.
The legislation would switch the Health Care Authority's system to a prevention and detection model, as a method to detect fraud, rather than its current pay-and-chase model. Much like your private credit card company's system, which use algorithms to detect inconsistent behavior and fraud, this new system would be very similar. A public hearing was held on the measure on Jan. 26, and I will keep you apprised of its progress in the legislative process.
I am proud to announce I have been selected to join the House Education Committee, effective immediately, which handles all K-12 education related issues for the state. With the latest state Supreme Court ruling on education funding, stating that the state is not meeting its constitutional mandate to fully fund education, I am thrilled to join the discussions and negotiations to make our public education system the best in the country. Two significant education bills are before the Legislature and I will discuss them in upcoming legislative briefs.
Numbers recently reported indicate the unemployment rate in Spokane County has not changed since 2009, remaining stuck at 9 percent. Washington's economy will benefit from Boeing's decision to bring the 737 Max to Washington state and should help push the unemployment numbers down on the west side of the state. Rural areas continue to struggle from long-term damage done by over blown budgets and the national and local economies. Many employers are still waiting to see if the Legislature can produce a balanced and sustainable budget this legislative session that is scheduled to adjourn March 8. Most states are recovering from the economy by bringing their budgets in line with current revenues and tax collections. However, as you may have guessed and as I stated in my last legislative brief, Washington state is not following that trend. Our state's six-year budget outlook continues to show deficits if spending behavior is not changed. Revenue is expected to increase by nearly 7 percent, or almost $2 billion, in the 2011-13 budget cycle, but structural deficits remain.
It is an honor to serve you in the Legislature. Please contact me if I can ever be of assistance. I hope you have a great weekend.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000