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AG Derek Schmidt: Bill to combat the abuse of Medicaid patients passes U.S. House

Release Date: Jun 25, 2019

TOPEKA – (June 25, 2019) – Legislation to remove a roadblock to broader investigation and prosecution of abuse of Medicaid patients in Kansas passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week and now awaits Senate action, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

For more than two years, Schmidt has been advocating federal action to clarify that state Medicaid Fraud Control Units may be used to detect, investigate and prosecute Medicaid patient abuse wherever it may be found. Current federal law restricts the use of MFCUs to addressing patient abuse only in nursing homes, board-and-care facilities, or other institutional settings – not in home health care or other non-institutional settings.

Last year, Schmidt testified before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, in support of the bill to expand MFCU jurisdiction, which was included in a package of broader legislation passed by the House last week. The vote on the broader bill, H.R. 3253, was 371 to 46 with all four Kansas representatives voting in favor.

Schmidt today sent a letter to U.S. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran seeking their assistance in moving the patient-abuse provision through the Senate.

“Senators, this measure to lift an arbitrary limitation on the use of MFCUs to detect, investigate and prosecute the physical, sexual, financial or other criminal abuse of Medicaid patients wherever it may occur seems common sense,” Schmidt wrote. “Because this is important to Kansas – which has a significant Medicaid population and encourages home-and-community-based services for that population – I respectfully request your support and assistance in winning Senate approval of this legislation at the earliest possible time.”

As a condition of participation in the Medicaid program, states generally are required to operate a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to help detect, investigate and prosecute Medicaid provider fraud and patient abuse. In Kansas as in most states, the unit is housed in the attorney general’s office. The federal government pays three-fourths of the cost of operating these units, and because of that sets limits on their jurisdiction. One of those limits – the one that would be lifted by this legislation -- restricts states from using these units to address patient abuse in non-institutional settings such as a home health care situation.

As the incoming president for the National Association of Attorneys General, Schmidt in 2017 began an advocacy effort to persuade Congress to eliminate that seemingly arbitrary restriction. Attorneys general of both political parties have joined in support of eliminating this federal restriction. In addition to his testimony in support of the bill in the House, Schmidt highlighted the bill during testimony before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in a hearing earlier this year.

A copy of Schmidt’s letter to Senators Roberts and Moran is available at http://bit.ly/2X4zXZW.

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