MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama House has approved a bill aimed at cutting down on fraud and abuse in the state's Medicaid program.
The sponsor, Republican Rep. Jim McClendon of Springville, said the bill is needed to protect a program that exists to provide essential health care to the neediest citizens.
The bill was approved by the House on Thursday by a unanimous 99-0 vote. However, debate lasted for about three hours as some members, mostly Democrats, worked to make sure the measure could not be used to deny Medicaid services to legitimate applicants.
The bill is part of efforts to improve the state's Medicaid program. The measure was also a top priority for Republican leaders.
The legislation is aimed at not just individuals who defraud Medicaid by submitting false claims, but also doctors and corporations that commit Medicaid fraud.
The legislation is supported by Gov. Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange.
"Abusers of the Medicaid Agency need to know that we are aggressively targeting their crimes, we will catch them red-handed and we will punish them severely," McClendon said.