The owner of a personal care services agency has been arrested and charged with defrauding the state’s Medicaid program, announced Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.
Patricia A. Bell, 51, of 111 Alabama Street, Rayville, surrendered to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for arrest last week. Bell, the owner of Cookies Helping Hand Inc., was charged with 60 counts of filing or maintaining false public records and seven counts of Medicaid fraud.
The arrest stems from an investigation of billing practices at Bell’s company located at 114 Ineichen Street in Rayville and 1298 Hwy 861 in Crowville. During an extensive review of billing records, patient logs, employee timesheets, and other reports, investigators discovered that more than $575,000 was billed to and paid by Louisiana Medicaid for services allegedly provided by employees of Bell’s company, even though those employees were no longer employed by her company. Bell also billed for services reportedly rendered while patients were in the hospital and for services when the employee was actually working at another job.
In an additional scheme, Bell is also accused of billing for services allegedly provided by employees on whom Bell did not obtain a legitimate background check. The Medicaid program requires a background check to be conducted on all personal care service workers.
Blatantly fraudulent and altered documents purporting to be background checks were among the false documents found in Bell’s office. The investigation revealed that dozens of employees had records indicating a falsified background, a falsified background check, or no background check at all in their personnel file.
“To unlawfully manipulate Louisiana’s Medicaid system is a brazen abuse of our tax dollars and the public trust,” said Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. “My office will continue to do what is necessary to protect vulnerable citizens as well as the Louisiana taxpayer.”
The Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is terminating its Medicaid agreement with Cooking Helping Hands Inc. DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said, “There is no room for fraud and abuse in Louisiana’s Medicaid Program and we work closely with the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to protect taxpayer dollars from fraudulent activity. When someone steals from Medicaid, they are stealing from some of the most vulnerable people in our care, and that will not be tolerated in this administration.”
Additional arrests related to this case are expected.
If you suspect Medicaid Fraud, please contact the Louisiana Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 888-799-6885.