MFCU - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a healthcare program available to those who cannot afford medical services including low-income families, children, disabled individuals, and the elderly. Medicaid is administered by each individual state, but is jointly funded by state and federal governments. For more information on Medicaid, contact the Department of Medical Assistance Services, see This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call (804) 786-7933.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is health insurance for: people 65 or older; people under 65 with certain disabilities; and people of any age with end-stage renal disease. There are different parts of Medicare including Medicare Part A that is hospital insurance; Medicare Part B which is Medical Insurance; Medicare Part C which is also known as Medicare Advantage and offers health plan options run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies; and Medicare D which provides Medicare prescription drug coverage. For more information or questions about Medicare, see www.medicare.gov, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).)

What is a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit?

A Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (“Unit” or “MFCU”) is a single identifiable entity of state government, annually certified by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Unit has either statewide criminal prosecution authority or formal procedures for referring cases to local prosecutorial authorities with respect to the detection, investigation and prosecution of suspected criminal violations of the Medicaid program. See 42 U.S.C. §1396b(q). There are 49 MFCUs plus the District of Columbia. Forty-three are currently located in the office of the state Attorney General. Connecticut, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Tennessee and West Virginia have Units which are in other departments of state government. North Dakota received a waiver from the federal government and does not have a Unit.

What is the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU)?

The National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU) was founded in 1978 to provide a forum for a nationwide sharing of information concerning the problems of Medicaid fraud, to improve the quality of Medicaid prosecutions by conducting training programs, to provide technical assistance to Association members and to provide the public with information about the MFCU program. All 50 MFCUs are members of the Association. NAMFCU is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and is staffed by an Executive Director, an Association Administrator and a part-time Association Assistant.

When was the MFCU established?

The MFCUs, created by Congress in 1977, are federal and state-funded law enforcement entities that investigate and prosecute provider fraud and violations of state law pertaining to fraud in the administration of the Medicaid program. In addition, the MFCUs are required to review complaints of resident abuse or neglect in nursing homes and other health care facilities. The Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) was established in 1982.

Who works for the Virginia MFCU?

The Virginia MFCU is made up of investigators, nurses, auditors, analysts, lawyers and staff. This team works together to recover millions of taxpayer dollars for the Commonwealth each year.

Must each state have a MFCU?

Under federal law, each state must have a Unit unless the state demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services that a Unit would not be cost effective because minimal fraud exists in the state's Medicaid program and Medicaid beneficiaries will be protected from abuse and neglect.

What is the jurisdiction of a MFCU?

A Unit's function is to implement a statewide program for the investigation and prosecution of health care providers who defraud the Medicaid program. In addition, a Unit reviews complaints of abuse or neglect against patients in health care facilities receiving Medicaid funding or patients receiving Medicaid-covered home care and may review complaints of the misappropriation of patients' private funds. The Unit is also charged with investigating fraud in the administration of the Medicaid program. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 authorizes the Units, with the approval of the Inspector General of the relevant federal agency, to investigate fraud in other federally-funded health care programs, if the case is primarily related to Medicaid. This Act also authorizes the Units, on an optional basis, to investigate and prosecute resident abuse or neglect in non-Medicaid board and care facilities.

How can citizens help?

While committing significant resources to protect the public, the Virginia Attorney General's Office welcomes the assistance of citizens in fighting health care fraud. Under Virginia's Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, people who blow the whistle on Medicaid Fraud are entitled to share in a percentage of funds recovered by the Commonwealth. You should be aware that whistleblowers have rights. You might be protected, under state law, from being retaliated against or fired by your employer for reporting abuse and fraud. Consult with a private attorney for more on your rights under this Act.

How are MFCUs funded?

MFCUs receive annual grants (Federal Financial Participation or "FFP") from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grant amounts must be matched with state funding. Initially, a Unit receives federal funding at a 90 percent level. After its first three years, the FFP is reduced to 75 percent.

How much has the Virginia MFCU recovered?

Since 1982, the Virginia MFCU has recovered nearly $2 billion.

What is the extent of federal oversight over a MFCU?

Each Unit operates under the administrative oversight of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and must be recertified annually. As part of the recertification process, the Inspector General reviews a Unit's application for recertification and may conduct on-site visits. Additionally, the MFCUs are required to submit annual reports to the Inspector General. These reports include specific statistical data required by federal legislation on the number and type of cases under investigation, the number of convictions obtained and the number of dollar recoveries to the Medicaid program. The day-to-day supervision of a Unit rests with the parent agency.

How does Medicaid spending in Virginia compare to other states?

According to the Virginia Senate Finance Committee's report dated November 17, 2011, the Commonwealth ranks among the lowest spending states in terms of per capita Medicaid expenditures. The report also states that Medicaid spending per beneficiary is slightly below the U.S. average.

Who is covered by Medicaid in Virginia?

According to DMAS's newsletter titled The Virginia Medicaid Program at a Glance February 2015 issue, the Virginia Medicaid population in state fiscal year 2014 was comprised of:

  • 614,798 children
  • 267,844 parents or caregivers of children and pregnant women
  • 78,729 elderly persons
  • 224,688 persons with a disability

What is the cost of serving different Medicaid populations?

According to the Virginia Senate Finance Committee's report dated November 17, 2011, the aged, blind, and disabled have more intensive and expensive health and long-term care needs compared to children and families. Children and families tend to use emergency rooms for routine health care.

How do Medicaid fraud cases typically arise?

While specifics may vary from state to state, a primary source of referrals is the agency responsible for auditing and reviewing Medicaid provider claims, the Medicaid agency. Other significant sources of referrals are the MFCUs in other states as well as other law enforcement agencies.

Who are providers?

Providers can be:
  • Nurses, CNAs, PAs, or NPs
  • Physicians
  • Transportation Companies
  • Ambulances
  • Counselors
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Medicaid-covered home care
  • Clinics
  • Home Care Agencies
  • Laboratories
  • Home Health Care Providers
  • And any other service, providers, companies, organizations or individuals, or employee or agent of company, organization, or individual that provides goods or services to Medicaid recipients for which payments is claimed. See Medicaid 42 C.F.R. § 1000.30.

What is patient abuse or neglect?

Patient abuse or neglect occurs when a person or caregiver knowingly causes physical harm to a resident of a health care facility or fails to give a resident needed medical service.

How do the multi-state/federal global settlements arise and how are they handled?

The National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU) will typically appoint global case teams based on referral from the Department of Justice. The NAMFCU President appoints a global case team, generally consisting of three to four attorneys and an analyst, from the state Medicaid Fraud Control Units. Global settlement agreements are negotiated by teams working in conjunction with the United States Department of Justice. The agreements are based on model language and resolve civil fraud allegations concerning the state Medicaid programs. Global case teams are essential to the recovery of fraud dollars to the states since providers are unlikely to settle the case without resolving the states' share of any Medicaid recovery.

What federal consequences follow a felony conviction for Medicaid fraud?

Under federal regulations, providers who are convicted of a program related offense are excluded for a minimum of five years from receiving funds from any federally funded health care program, either as a health care provider or employee. Often, this sanction has a greater impact on the convicted individual and the provider community at large than the criminal penalties assessed in the case.

How does Medicaid fraud affect me?

The Virginia Medicaid budget for FY 2014 was $7 billion. When providers steal from the Medicaid program in Virginia, they diminish the resources that are available to recipients under the program. Not only can the amount of available services decrease, but the quality of treatment provided by dishonest providers is diminished as they try to reduce costs and increase their own profit. So, it is in all of our best interests to report Medicaid fraud as well as abuse and neglect.