OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today led a bipartisan coalition of 48 states in sending a letter of support to the authors of proposed federal legislation that, if passed into law, would ease federal restrictions currently limiting states’ Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCU).
Authored by U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg, R-Mich. and Peter Welch, D-Vt., HR 3891 would expand states’ MFCUs authority to detect, investigate and prosecute cases of abuse or neglect of Medicaid patients outside of institutional settings, without losing federal financial participation.
Attorney General Hunter encourages Congress to act quickly to update the law.
“The antiquated law has not kept up with industry growth,” Attorney General Hunter said. “State authorities want more latitude to better protect our citizens who are being mistreated, while holding those accountable who are breaking the law. Giving MFUCs more investigatory authority into allegations will save lives.
“My colleagues and I commend Reps. Walberg and Welch for authoring this important legislation. We encourage Congress to act expeditiously to pass this common sense reform.”
The current statute allows MFCU agents the authority to investigate allegations of abuse in institutional settings. Attorneys general say because the statute was written decades ago, it doesn’t properly account for the substantial growth that has occurred over the years in home and community-based services.
Further, the attorneys general write the statute change could help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic. Attorneys general explain that under current law, if a Medicaid recipient in a home or community-based setting is unlawfully provided prescription opioid painkillers, resulting in an overdose death, state MFCUs would be hampered or prevented from investigating or prosecuting because it occurred in a setting outside a health care facility.
“Under HR 3891, however, MFCUs could exercise clear authority to pursue that sort of investigation and, if appropriate, prosecute that patient abuse, thus bringing more criminal and civil investigation and prosecution assets to bear in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” the letter reads.
To read today’s letter, click here.
The proposed legislation comes after a similar letter, signed by 38 attorneys general last May, requesting then- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price take similar action to expand state MFCU authority. Although an August reply from the agency agreed with the attorneys general that a change needed to be made, it concluded that changes could not be made by regulation and required a statutory amendment.
To read the letter to Price, click here.
In addition to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, the letter was signed by attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.