Immediate improvements to the Erie County Department of Social Services are planned by Democrat James P. Keane, the candidate for county executive announced Thursday.
"We will seek a partnership with New York to innovate our programs. We will pilot program delivery here and guide taxpayer money smartly," Keane said.
Proposed reforms designed to improve efficiency and cut waste include consolidation of physical locations of the department, expanded use of new technology and advancement of fraud detection and investigations.
Social Services staff devoted to fraud detection and overpayment recovery was cut during the county's budget crisis of 2004-05, the candidate noted.
"Welfare dollars and Medicaid dollars are really taxpayer dollars," he said, "and it will be my job to protect those funds. In addition, we will create added capacity to monitor our major Medicaid providers. For too many years, this effort has been ignored, and millions are at stake."
Keane also suggests that the state seek federal support for bulk prescription purchases from Canada.
"The feds can give New York greater 'bang for its buck' by allowing us to cut our prescription costs," he said. "One easy way would be to add Canadian suppliers to our bulk purchase plan for Medicaid clients. Prescription costs are the fastest growing of our Medicaid costs."