State lines

Fighting fraud. States and the federal government have curbed Medicaid abuse by analyzing payment errors and sharing data about providers who file phony claims, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.

GAO's report described state and federal efforts to reduce improper payments in the Medicaid program.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is conducting two pilots to support states' programs to reduce fraud and abuse by providers of health care to low-income Americans.

One pilot, in its third year, measures the accuracy of each state's Medicaid payments. Another pilot helps identify providers bilking the program by giving state Medicaid officials access to two federal databases and to provider suspension notices and alerts of emerging schemes. In its first year of testing in California, that pilot resulted in $58 million in savings and more than 80 cases against suspected fraudulent providers. CMS has expanded the pilot to six more states.

Busted. Massachusetts' Industrial Accidents Department avoided an accident of its own three years ago when one of its notebook PCs was stolen.

IT manager Phil Wiswell had installed ComputracePlus from Absolute Software Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, on the notebook. When the thief accessed the Internet from the notebook, the software silently contacted Absolute's monitoring center and local law enforcement, giving them an address and a contact phone number for the stolen machine.

'The thief was quite shocked when the police showed up at his door,' Wiswell said.

Recovering that one notebook paid for the department's Computrace licenses for three years, Wiswell said.

Mesh test. Las Vegas is set to begin testing a wireless broadband network based on mesh networking technology from MeshNetworks Inc. of Maitland, Fla.

The city's Traffic Engineering Department and Nevada's Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation group are testing wireless mesh technology for traffic management applications.
Other agencies, including public safety and code enforcement, also will have access to the network, which initially will cover only the downtown area. At the end of the pilot, Las Vegas will have the option to expand the network to cover the city's entire 58 square miles.

'The deployment was very simple, and the equipment installed is low-profile and nonintrusive,' said Jorge Cervantes, assistant traffic engineer for Las Vegas. 'We are hopeful that a wireless mesh network ... could be a cost-effective way for the city of Las Vegas to provide a more efficient system to serve its citizenry.'

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