State Officials Request More Power to Crack Down on Home Care

More than two-dozen state attorneys general are pushing for more power and funds to monitor home care quality. They penned a letter to Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price urging changes to policies around using Medicaid funds to investigate alleged abuse or neglect in the home environment.

In all, 37 states’ attorneys general signed the letter to Sec. Price.

Currently federal law allows for “review of complaints of alleged abuse or neglect of patients in health care facilities,” but there isn’t specific protection for those in the home.

“[The] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that one in 10 persons age 65 and older who live at home will become a victim of abuse,” the letter says. “Not surprisingly, CDC figures also suggest that most elder abuse is never detected, with one study concluding that for every case of elder abuse that is detected or reported, 23 more are hidden.”

Increased protection for in-home care patients is necessary, but could also bring more watchful eyes on home health agencies and caregivers trying to deliver good care, West Hawaii Today argues.

The attorneys general recommended two changes in the letter:

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

“The MFCUs are valuable assets to help make that freedom a reality for Medicaid beneficiaries,” says the letter. “We respectfully request you take swift action to eliminate federal regulations that needlessly narrow our use of these valuable assets. Instead, we request to be freed to use federal MFCU funds to detect, investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect committed against Medicaid beneficiaries or in connection with Medicaid-funded services to the fullest extend permitted by federal statute.”

Read the full letter from the attorneys general to Sec. Price.

Written by Alana Stramowski

Alana Stramowski