EAST LANSING, MI – AUDIO:
Attorney General Mike Cox is calling for the creation of a new, independent state agency to root out fraud and corruption in the Medicaid program.
The Republican attorney general and candidate for governor says six other states have named a Medicaid inspector general to search through Medicaid records to weed out abuse, fraud, and waste.
Michigan spends about a billion dollars a year on Medicaid.
John Selleck is the attorney general's spokesman.
"Our target here is to get to 100 million to start," he says, "and that would be a huge chunk of money in a budget that badly needs it."
Selleck says the savings could be used to avert further cuts to health care for the poor as the state grapples with a growing budget deficit.
Cox says it's important that the watchdog report to directly to the governor, and not to the Department of Community Health, which runs the program. He says that would allow the Medicaid inspector's office to do its job without fear of reprisal.
Critics of the idea say that should be the job of the attorney general.