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Abbot Laboratories Agrees to Pay $1.5 Billion to Settle Civil and Criminal Claims in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia

Yesterday Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced a whopping $1.7 billion settlement in what he called “the largest Medicaid fraud case investigated by a state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit ever.”  

My regular readers know that the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (which is shortened to MFCU in the parlance of the false claims act and pronounced as M Foo-Coo) is an elite unit, to say the least.  For at least the last 8 years or so, the Virginia MFCU has led the way nationwide on some of the toughest cases ever brought.   

MFCUs are state-based criminal and civil law enforcement agencies that are funded 75% by the federal government and are responsible for investigating and prosecuting providers that defraud the Medicaid program. In addition, the MFCUs can investigate complaints of abuse or neglect against residents in long-term care and board and care facilities.

When Congress created the MFCUs in 1977, it did so not only because of substantial evidence of fraud in the Medicaid program, but also because of horrendous evidence of nursing home abuse and victimization. The MFCUs are the only law enforcement agencies in the country that are specifically charged with investigating and prosecuting abuse and neglect of residents in nursing homes, other Medicaid funded health care institutions and board and care facilities.

It is important to note that none of the qui tam relators were from Virginia, and Abbott isn’t headquartered here — no, this case was brought in Virginia for two reasons.  First, because the Virginia MFCU is top notch, and second, Virginia Courts are *the* place to prosecute any complex case, as a general rule.  

This case was under seal for quite a long time by Virginia standards — it was first filed in 2007 — but that could be because it was so large.

My hat is off to the Virginia MFCU people, as well as to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who really needed some good news this week after all of the bad news he’s had lately….