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House Approves Welch Bill Combatting Elder Abuse in State Medicaid Programs

June 19, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Late last night, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan bill authored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that will protect Vermont seniors and others from abuse and neglect by bad actors in the Medicaid program. The bill was co-authored by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and approved on a strong bipartisan vote of 371 to 46.

Under current law, state-based Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) are only authorized to investigate fraud and abuse that occurs in health care facilities. Welch’s legislation expands their authority to detect, investigate, and prosecute fraud and abuse in non-institutional settings as well. In most states, MCFUs are overseen by state attorneys general.

“Medicaid provides health care coverage to over a third of Vermonters, including many low-income seniors,” said Welch. “This bipartisan initiative will empower state attorneys general to crack down on bad actors exploiting Medicaid beneficiaries, often in their own homes, while ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.”

“This legislation is key to our ability to fully investigate and prosecute elder abuse cases,” said Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan. “Today, many elder abuse cases occur outside of a nursing home, such as in the private homes of elder Vermonters. H.R. 233 will help our Medicaid Fraud Unit investigate and prosecute Medicaid related-patient abuse wherever it may occur. I thank Congressman Welch for his leadership on this issue.”

The Medicaid Patient Abuse Prevention Act (H.R. 233) was incorporated into H.R. 3253. The bill is now pending consideration in the U.S. Senate.

Welch is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which approved his legislation last Fall.