Medicaid: Justice should sign bill moving fraud unit

Lawmakers did the right thing during this year’s legislative session in passing a bill to move the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit from the Department of Health and Human Services to the office of the Attorney General. All the bill requires now is Gov. Jim Justice’s signature.

“I applaud the House and Senate for taking this historic step in rooting out fraud, waste and abuse,” said state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. “The unlawful taking of Medicaid benefits wastes tax dollars, deepens deficits and jeopardizes a program designed to help those most in need.”

Morrisey has a good record of tracking down those who would abuse the system, weeding them out and saving taxpayers money (or, more correctly, simply making sure taxpayer money is not being wasted in the first place).

Meanwhile, the DHHR, which would likely love to protect this little piece of the bureaucratic pie, has a less-than-stellar record.

Last week, Del. Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, reminded his fellow lawmakers that under the DHHR, the Mountain State has a below-average rate of catching Medicaid cheats. As a result of that failure to root out fraud, West Virginia has “missed out on more than $8 million in a single year,” Espinosa added.

Taxpayers have become accustomed to understanding their money is in danger of being thrown away by folks in Charleston who either are unwilling or unable to stop fraud (and, of course DHHR is not the only culprit). But the folks in the attorney general’s office are willing AND able.

Justice should give them the opportunity to do so.