Whistleblower Files suit Against a NE Ohio Rehabilitation Center Alleging Medicare Fraud
Late last month whistleblower Lynn Roycroft, a former clinical supervisor, at Abraxas Ohio – a 100 bed Residential Treatment Center for adolescent males owned by GEO Group, Inc. – filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the facility had falsely and fraudulently billed Medicare for counseling sessions that did not occur. The GEO Group, Inc. is a Florida-based, private prison company that specializes in corrections, detention and mental health treatment. It is currently one of the largest private prison companies in the nation. According to Medicaid officials, Abraxas has received more than $33 million in payments from the program since 2012.
Roycroft also alleges that men and women who otherwise had no prior education or experience in counseling were hired by Abraxas, given a week of training and then granted positions as counselors for the 100 boys who are housed at the facility. Roycroft further alleges that in addition to the financial and billing irregularities that existed at Abraxas Ohio, that teenage boys were often restrained rather than being given counseling for their drug and/or alcohol abuse. “The philosophy of the institution was to get as many kids in there as you could and bill Medicaid your three hours of group counseling a day, whether the groups happened or not,” Roycroft said. “To me, it’s just blatant fraud.” A representative for, GEO Group, Inc. – Pablo Paez -has denied all allegations and says that his company will “vigorously” defend itself against these charges.
The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court, is pending. Roycroft as a whistleblower is seeking unspecified damages. The case aligns with the government’s ongoing efforts at combating health care fraud via its Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT) which was announced back in May of 2009 by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The result is that since January 2009 the Justice Department has recovered more than $31.4 billion through False Claims Act cases. Moreover, whistleblowers have been able to utilize a qui tam lawyer to share in settlements that have come about as a result of the government’s efforts. If you have chosen to disclose False Claims Act violations to the government it is also advised that you contact qui tam lawyers. A Qui tam attorney can advise you in such matters and will work to protect your rights under the law.