Friday, March 18, 2011

Attorney General Cuccinelli on elder abuse – Part One

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at his Roanoke Office

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was in Roanoke Friday interviewing at WSET Channel 13. He then headed the kick off of Legal Food Frenzy at Gentry Locke Law firm downtown around noon. In-between Gene Marrano and myself met him at his Roanoke Office on Peters Creek Road.

Cuccinelli was proud of the fact that his general fund budget was still smaller than his predecessors. “Every section of my office has either shrunk or stayed the same size except the Healthcare Fraud Medicaid Unit,” he said. That unit has increased by almost 50 percent.

Cuccinelli talked about the 15-year fraud/crime prevention program that protects the elderly. He plans to add abuse of the elderly to the program. “This has been made a very high priority in my office,” said Cuccinelli.

They have more cases then they can get to. “All we get in the news for is for suing the Federal Government. Ninety-nine percent of the time when we go into a courtroom on health care it is with the Federal Government as a partner,” said Cuccinelli.

Local staff is “effectively a great big white collar crime unit and they are the best in the country,” he said. U.S. Attorney’s from other parts of the country call into his office to work cases with them.

It is not confined to Medicare/Medicaid fraud only but attacks elder abuse that might have Medicare fraud related to it.

Medical personnel are on staff to uncover abuse in facilities. He complained of barriers to investigating abuse of the elderly when outside of Medicare. The AGO can gain access to the medical records of a Medicare patient but lacks the ability to get records from a patient without Medicare.

“It makes no sense when your pursuing abuse … just because there are no taxpayer dollars involved,” he said. The AGO has no authority to issue a subpoena outside of Medicare.

He summarized that it makes perfect sense to exclude his office when there is no Medicare fraud involved. It is when abuse is involved it makes no sense that the AGO cannot investigate to protect the elderly. The next General Assembly will fix this problem.

In the Southwest/Roanoke Region area fraud and abuse are steadily growing. The area is a destination for many of these facilities. Cuccinelli explained that they are being started here because their cost of doing business is more manageable.

Mistakes are one thing but when repeated the AGO “comes back to it with a little different attitude.” The AGO works closely with the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS). They set up the billing programs and perform education services.

Editor’s Note:

The most important question (not right out of the box) was why he has been off twitter. I mean this is extremely important to us social media addicts. It seems the Ubertwitter app died on his smartphone and though he has downloaded a new app he can’t remember his password. He’ll be back up soon as he is close to guessing it correctly. Now that is the most important news.

Gene and Ken got into March Madness talk that I could have cared less about but I’m sure some of you do so you’ll have to read The Roanoke Star-Sentinel next week. Gene might write about that yaaaawn!

Attorney General Cuccinelli on testifying before congress – Part Two

The softer side of Attorney General Cuccinelli – Part Three

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Politics, State Politics

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