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Attorneys General Call for Federal Policy Change to Expand Authority to Address More Resident Abuse Cases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   Wednesday, May 10, 2017    
CONTACT:  Sara Rabern (605) 773-3215

  
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley has joined 38 Attorneys General in signing onto a National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) letter urging the U.S. government to change its policy so that state attorneys general could use federal funds to investigate and prosecute a wider range of Medicaid abuse and neglect cases, including those that happen at home.  "I want to bolster our existing resources to provide further protection to our fellow elderly and disabled citizens," Jackley said. “We are fortunate that the vast majority of caregivers in South Dakota provide high quality health care, and we will continue to work with our partners and our caregivers to ensure that our citizens receive the highest level of care in both home and facility settings."

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides free or low-cost medical benefits to millions of Americans. More than 6.4 million people enrolled in the Medicaid program are age 65 or older.

The South Dakota Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigates and prosecutes Medicaid provider fraud, and resident abuse, neglect, and theft complaints in Medicaid-funded health care facilities. MFCU also reviews abuse and neglect complaints involving board and care facilities.

The letter states that “the current strict federal limitations on states’ ability to use MFCU assets to investigate abuse and neglect are outdated, arbitrarily restrict our ability to protect Medicaid beneficiaries from abuse and neglect as Congress intended, and should be replaced or eliminated.”

NAAG offered two recommendations:

• Allow MFCU federals funds to be used to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries in non-institutional settings (i.e. home health care).
• Allow use of MFCU federal funds to freely screen or review any and all complaints or reports of whatever type, in whatever setting.

SD MFCU works with federal, state, and local partners on cases involving fraud, abuse, neglect, and theft. These partnerships have resulted in the successful resolution of 42 civil and criminal cases, and the recovery of over $3 million of taxpayer funds, in the last 3 years.

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