Over the summer the Attorney General Office hired 40 new lawyers as part of its ongoing initiative to redouble its efforts against Medicaid fraud. Besides investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud, the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) also zealously roots out cases of patient neglect, drug diversion, and ordinary fraud and theft connected with the institutions and seniors who benefit from the program.
In regards to Medicaid fraud, the AG has recently indicted the office manager of a Waxahachie nursing home for theft. The MCFU claims that in addition to writing out checks to herself from a resident’s personal checkbook, the defendant also diverted more than $350,000 into a trust fund account which she then withdrew for her own purposes.
The primary hunting ground for the MFCU has always been nursing homes and the medical personnel who serve their elderly patients. For example, in a 2006 press release the Attorney General lauded the recent uncovering by the Unit and local law enforcement of drug diversion in a nursing home. In response to a nurse’s complaint that another LVN was arriving to work while apparently under the influence, the AG determined that the suspect nurse was fraudulently diverting Oxycodone for her own use. Another case from last year involved an LVN’s guilty plea to charges of injury to an elderly person by reckless omission. The Unit’s prosecutor claimed that the nurse disregarded multiple reports of an elderly patient’s failing condition while she engaged in personal conversations on her cell-phone.
The AG’s hiring binge represents the culmination of several years of increased appropriations by the State Legislature and mirrors the increased pressure placed on the Texas Nursing and Medical Boards to weed out offenders. The addition of 40 new attorneys can only augur additional prosecutions of medical personnel and an increase in the licensing actions that inevitably follow such criminal proceedings.