Vaad Update and Statement regarding Medicaid Voluntary Disclosure Program; Medicaid Voluntary Disclosure Program Ends as Scheduled: Vaad Pledges to Continue Raising Awareness

With the Ocean County Voluntary Disclosure program, created in the wake of the Medicaid fraud arrests, now concluded, local Orthodox leaders are looking beyond the program to the future. They note that the program achieved its goal of bringing major benefits to New Jersey taxpayers, and that it resulted in improved compliance rates for the region.

Precise figures for how many individuals participated in the program, and how much funds were recovered, have not yet been released. However, Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg of the Lakewood Vaad notes that even if 1/10th of 1% of Lakewood’s 130,000 residents participated that would translate into well over 100 residents who stepped up to the program.  This, he says, would mean that when penalties are included that millions of dollars may have been recovered for the taxpayers.

Moreover, he stresses that the ripple effects of the program extend well beyond the raw numbers.

“We all share a common goal” says Rabbi Weisberg. “We all believe that every taxpayer dollar spent should be within the full letter and spirit of the laws that govern their distribution. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all in our region live up to the highest level of ethics and legal compliance.”

To this end, the Voluntary Disclosure program enabled individuals who have improperly benefited from taxpayer dollars in previous years to come forward and correct those mistakes. The fact that they were able to do so without fear of criminal prosecution, as with any similar program, made it attractive to come forward voluntarily. Millions in taxpayer funds are typically recovered as a result, at negligible cost to taxpayers relative to the steep investigative and social costs that taxpayers would incur to recover the funds on an involuntary basis.

Even prior to the formation of the Voluntary Disclosure program, The Vaad, in coordination with the Lakewood Resource and Referral Center (LRRC), Agudath Israel’s New Jersey office, and Lakewood Community Service Corporation (LCSC), held a series of “Community Conversations” events that reached an audience of thousands. These events educated both individuals and professionals of the myriad intricacies related to each government program, and the unique rules they each have. These events featured presenters from prestigious firms, including Citigroup, Proskauer Rose LLP, Roth & Company, LRRC and CHEMED.

The overarching message of the Community Conversations was to ensure that every application and financial disclosure lives up to full legal compliance and, and that no detail is missed, whether advertently or inadvertently.  The message of the Community Conversations event also included the following: learn program rules before applying.   If unsure make sure to seek professional guidance.  If rules are opaque or interpreted differently by different offices of the same agency –check twice and thrice until you are 100% certain of what is required.

And, as always, the LRRC is available to advise Ocean County residents of program rules and regulations and to help with answering any questions they may have.

As a result of the Community Conversations awareness in Ocean County has grown, and the level of anxiety among legitimate recipients has gone down.  Individuals who must rely on assistance are taking extra pains to ensure that every “I” is dotted and every “T” is crossed. And Rabbi Weisberg says, “The Vaad will continue this joint effort in the months and years ahead.”

He notes that when The Vaad observed low turnout at the State Comptroller’s event in September where the Comptroller’s office announced the Voluntary Disclosure program, it led to the recognition that effective outreach has to be done by professionals, including trusted accountants and lawyers and not by law enforcement.   This is all the more vital in the current accusatory online environment that accompanies news coverage of Lakewood.   This led to a comprehensive campaign to educate residents how to access professional counsel to learn about eligibility in a personalized individualized manner, versus needing to rely on general public resources.

Rabbi Weisberg notes that program participants did not get off the hook at all. They needed to repay any improper benefits received, plus they had to pay steep penalties. They were also banned from Medicaid for a full year, even if they are currently eligible. This leaves many without healthcare, which led to widespread criticism of the program by some involved in public health matters.

According to Yosef Jacobovitch, Esq., who represented a number of program participants, “While the repayment terms were onerous and the penalties severe even for people who erred with no malice, my clients chose to participate and rectify their mistakes.”

Jacobovitch adds that most of his clients who participated in this program did not have the resources to repay the benefits accrued over a number of years.  They incurred steep debt to participate, and needed to make painful long term lifestyle changes to do so. The direct cost and long term repercussions of participating in this program were significantly more severe than they are for any of the many conventional “amnesty programs” out there, such as gun buybacks or tax settlements, which do not bear the same type of consequences. The Vaad lauds their efforts to do the right thing in spite of all these challenges.

As we turn the calendar to 2018, the Vaad looks forward to continuing to work on this and other issues, in cooperative efforts to build a healthy public climate and stronger communities throughout Ocean County.

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    • Statute of Limitations for Criminal Prosecution NJ

      NJSA 2C:1-6(A)(1). A prosecution for a crime must be commenced within five years after it is committed.

      Statute of Limitations for Criminal Prosecution

      For Medicaid and Medicare fraud, federal law establishes (1) a civil statute of limitations of six years (42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7a(c)(1)), and (2) a criminal statute of limitations of five years (18 U.S.C. § 3282).

  1. The bottom line is that most people who are middle class are really not – they are really not able to make it and there should be assistance for them also. Healthcare is not affordable unless you are wealthy or are on Medicaid. But, the guidelines for Medicaid and other programs are so low that the middle class is caught in the middle and they can’t afford healthcare or other things. I for instance am “too rich” for Medicaid and other programs, but I really have to scrimp and pinch pennies and live like a pauper.

    • A better answer than adding the middle class to the welfare rolls is to reduce taxes and government spending altogether, institute school vouchers and to reduce regulations across the board which add layers of cost to every product and service and add billions of dollars to government payrolls and operating costs. No, I don’t want poison food, air and water and no one is talking about that. How about letting a kid run a lemonade stand or a small building to be built without a score of government agencies adding cost and delay?

  2. Bottom line is fraud is rampant in every government program for the government to target a single ethnic group is racist, despicable very disturbing to say the least I don’t believe for one second (and I highly doubtful they have data showing otherwise) that people on assistance in ocean county cheat anymore than someone on assistance elsewhere that being said there is no reason why they are targeting us….bottom line

  3. “My Take” you are falling for the communist playbook. One of the key goals, is to force people to require aid and thereby embrace socialism and eventually communism. I used to think this was hyperbole, but it’s real and part of “Rules for Radicals”

    In NJ, a family of 5 can get a $400 a month subsidy if they earn less than $105k. What they don’t tell you, is that more than $400 a month of that premium, is used to pay for someone elses premium. So they inflate the cost of the insurance, then are “generous” enough to give you a subsidy, to help pay for their inflated cost.

    The same thing with public school, why are Democrats so opposed to school vouchers? If they truly champion the poor, you would think they would support school vouchers. The wealthy can already afford private schools, it is the middle income who stand to gain the most by having vouchers.

    The answer is the same. It is part of the same “rules”. Control the schools, control the next generation. Look at what is happening to the millenial product of the public schools. Many are radical leftists.

    This may seem like conspiracy type stuff, but this is part of the lefts literature.

    So getting back on topic, you don’t need someone paying your bills, you need the government to get their hand out of your pocket so you can pay your own.

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