In the past two days, the New York Times has had two fantastic articles on the problems that face New York State’s Medicaid program. Yesterday’s piece detailed billions of dollars of fraud that have been committed by unscrupulous medical service providers, including a dentist that billed 991 procedures in a single day in 2003 (100 an hour!), a doctor that wrote 12% of the prescriptions for a $6,400 a month AIDS drug that went to helping bodybuilders bulk up, and a school administrator that rubber-stamped applications to enroll 60% of her special education students in speech therapy (twice the national average), thus netting the Medicaid payments for the school district. And in today’s followup piece, the Times looked into the program’s ability to investigate fraud and found it in equally poor shape. In the past 25 years, the staff tasked with finding abuse has been cut to 25% of its original size, and the amount of money recovered by investigations has gone down 70%, all of which has let the abuses found in yesterday’s article go unchecked. After today’s piece, NY Governor George Pataki ordered a complete overhaul of the program — but of course, he’s billing it as “an effort to further enhance the State’s successful efforts to control Medicaid costs” rather than “an obvious reaction to getting his ass handed to him in the pages of the paper of record.”