- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A pilot program that allows residents of one New Jersey county who either purposely or inadvertently received unwarranted Medicaid benefits to withdraw from the program without prosecution started Tuesday.

Under the Ocean County Recipient Voluntary Disclosure Program, county residents can avoid prosecution by paying full restitution and additional penalties to Medicaid. They also must voluntarily withdraw from the program for a year.

The 90-day program comes after 26 Lakewood residents in June were accused of wrongfully collecting more than $2 million in public-assistance benefits. However, the program is not open to them or to anyone who has previously entered into a settlement with the state.

“Our goal is to bring those in Ocean County who were not in compliance with Medicaid eligibility requirements into compliance and to have them make full restitution of all improperly received funds,” state Comptroller Philip Degnan said in a statement.

The state comptroller said the program could be expanded to other counties.

Suspected Medicaid waste, fraud or abuse can be reported by calling its 888-937-2835 or online at: https://www.state.nj.us/comptroller/divisions/medicaid/complaint.html .

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