Attorneys general from around that nation have asked the Trump administration to allow them to use federal funds meant for their Medicaid fraud units to combat elder abuse.

On Wednesday, 38 state attorneys general sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price asking for permission to use federal funds now received for Medicaid Fraud Control Units to investigate cases of abuse and neglect, rather than just fraud cases.

There are currently 6.4 million Medicaid beneficiaries that are dually eligible for Medicare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 10 people age 65 and older who live at home will become a victim of abuse, according to the letter.

“In light of those realities, the current strict federal limitations on states’ ability to use MFCU assets to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect are outdated and arbitrarily restrict our ability to protect Medicaid beneficiaries,” the letter states.

The attorneys general added that they believe that current federal law would allow Price to make the change. MFCUs received approximately $188 million in federal funding in fiscal 2015, the last year for which data are available. That was the majority of their approximately $251 million in overall funding.

The Obama administration had proposed making the change via a rulemaking last fall, but it wasn’t finalized before the presidential transition. It estimated that expanding the federal funds’ uses would generate $72 million in savings over 10 years.

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Virgil Dickson reports from Washington on the federal regulatory agencies. His experience before joining Modern Healthcare in 2013 includes serving as the Washington-based correspondent for PRWeek and as an editor/reporter for FDA News. Dickson earned a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University in 2007.

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