Scamming the System

March 26, 2013 Updated Mar 26, 2013 at 7:22 AM EDT

By WKBW News

March 26, 2013 Updated Mar 26, 2013 at 7:22 AM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - Medicaid is a program meant to help those who can't afford health insurance get the medical care they need. Some people are cheating the system, in some cases, using it to get their hands on powerful painkillers they don't need but later sell on the streets. Most go unchecked, despite threats from officials including Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

"We will find you, we will find what you did," Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz announced his plan to find and charge Medicaid abusers back in July of last year.

"We will work with our partners in the New York State government to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law, and receive repayment for improper payments that you received," Poloncarz said.

Those state partners, the office responsible for tracking Medicaid, may not be much help. It has failed to hire a private investigation firm to perform stings, due to a flawed bidding process. The State Comptroller said it stems from administrative problems within the office of the Medicaid Inspector General.

The last private investigation firm ended its work in 2011 but was quite successful, retrieving tens of millions of dollars that were stolen from the system. It is money that many people fear is now being lost.