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State Met With Lakewood Jewish Group Before Offering Medicaid Fraud Amnesty

New Jersey officials met exclusively with representatives of the Lakewood Vaad, an Orthodox Jewish group, while planning a controversial Medicaid fraud amnesty program, the Asbury Park Press reported last week.

The amnesty program, offered only in Ocean County, New Jersey, allowed Medicaid fraudsters to repay illicit benefits without facing prosecution. The program came after officials arrested more than a dozen members of Lakewood’s Orthodox community on Medicaid fraud charges this spring. Critics of the amnesty program charged that it favored the Orthodox community.

The Asbury Park Press’s report found that New Jersey officials met only with Vaad representatives while planning the amnesty offer. Leaders of local Hispanic and African-American groups said they were taken by surprise when the program was announced.

“Nothing to us at all. No one reached out,” Alejandra Morales, president of a local immigrant right’s group, told the Asbury Park Press.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis.

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