Louisiana recovered more than $124 million in fraudulent Medicaid payments during the last fiscal year, leading the nation in recovery efforts, according to federal health officials.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that Louisiana’s recovery rate of nearly 2 percent of all Medicaid dollars spent was the highest of any state.

On average, states recover less than 0.6 percent of their respective Medicaid budgets.

“We take fraud and abuse of the Medicaid system very seriously in Louisiana,” state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said in a news release announcing the ranking. “I am incredibly proud of the work our Program Integrity division to recover funds lost through fraudulent payments and of our ever-strengthening relationship with the attorney general’s office to go after those who seek to knowingly steal from Louisiana citizens by defrauding the Medicaid system”

Medicaid fraud cases are typically identified through investigations conducted by the DHH Medicaid Program Integrity division. The investigators work to distinguish billing errors from true fraud caes. In the event of a billing error, program staff or Medicaid billing contractor Molina conducts education or training in correct billing practices.

In the last fiscal year, the Program Integrity Division recouped more than $4.5 million administratively. The division also made 186 referrals to the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for further investigation.