COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced March 28 that he has joined a bipartisan coalition of 48 other state attorneys general and the National Association of Attorneys General in supporting a bill that would improve states’ ability to go after entities that abuse and neglect Medicaid beneficiaries.

“This change is vitally important because it eliminates the blinders current law places on Medicaid Fraud Control Units’ ability to detect, investigate, and prosecute cases of abuse and neglect of Medicaid patients,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter. “Since the current statute was enacted decades ago, substantial growth has occurred in home and community-based services, office-based services, transportation services, and other settings that are neither health care facilities nor board and care facilities.”

The bill in question, H.R. 3891, was written by U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.). H.R. 3891 would give more authority to the Medicaid Fraud Control Units in states across the country, allowing them to better target entities that abuse and neglect patients. One major example of abuse, the attorneys general noted, relates to the opioid epidemic.

“Consider, for example, a situation in which a Medicaid beneficiary in a home or community-based setting is provided prescription opioid painkillers in an unlawful manner, resulting in death or great bodily harm to the patients,” the attorneys general wrote. “Under current law, although the patient harm caused by the distribution of those opioids may have been criminal, our MFCUs would be hampered or prevented from investigating or prosecuting the case of patient abuse because it occurred in a setting other than a health care facility or board and care facility.”

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