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WV Senate panel OKs measure to move Medicaid fraud unit to AG office


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s push to take over the state’s Medicaid fraud unit cleared its first hurdle Tuesday.

The Senate Government Organization Committee advanced legislation (SB500) that would transfer the fraud unit from the Department of Health and Human Resources to Morrisey’s office.

“The Office of Attorney General will do a superior job in handling this unit,” Morrisey told state lawmakers. “We need to be much more aggressive in going after fraud.”

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has recovered $56 million during the past five years, DHHR officials said. The unit investigates Medicaid recipients and healthcare providers reimbursed with Medicaid funds.

DHHR opposes the move.

“The unit is doing well and performing well where it is,” said Kathy Lawson, DHHR inspector general. “We see no reason to uproot it and move it to another organization.”

Morrisey said attorneys general in 43 states operate Medicaid fraud units. West Virginia has a lower recovery rate than most states, he said.

“The efforts to go after Medicaid fraud have not been widely successful the past few years,” Morrisey said. “West Virginia can do much better.”

Morrisey said DHHR wasn’t using the latest “data-mining” techniques to identify fraud. He said his office would be more aggressive.

“I think we can bring a fresh set of eyes,” he said.

Asked how much money the unit would recover under his watch, Morrisey said, “Until we are able to look at the bowels of the Medicaid fraud unit and identify the existing staff and current analytics, it’s hard to put a specific number on it.”

DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch told lawmakers the Medicaid fraud unit was poised to recover more money this year.

“We want to get as much fraud out of the system as possible,” he said. “We’re going to do that.”

Under the bill, Morrisey would take control of the Medicaid fraud unit in October.

The legislation next goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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