Our Opinion: Kicking the curb

Many people think of “entitlement” programs as federal government responsibilities. While it is true most of the money for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid comes from Washington, billions of dollars a year come from state coffers for some payments, including Medicaid and unemployment compensation.

Enormous amounts are siphoned off through fraudulent claims. How much? Just one alleged criminal, Kentucky attorney Eric C. Conn, is accused of helping clients defraud the government of $600 million in federal disability payments.

Yes, $600 million.

It is suggested regularly that state governments in West Virginia and Ohio could do more to curb fraud in programs they control, such as Medicaid. Clearly, the stakes – in money defrauded from taxpayers and diverted from people who really need and deserve help – are substantial.

Legislators in both our states should be considering what more can be done to prevent fraud in taxpayer-funded entitlement programs. Especially in the Mountain State, where officials are facing the worst budget crisis in decades, saving a few million dollars ought to be very appealing.