From billing scams to broomsticks: Fraud and abuse plague adult day care centers

More than 250,000 people participate in adult day service programs nationwide, and 32 percent of them have Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, according to an AARP blog post. But recent headlines show the mission of these centers--to support functionally-impaired adults and their caregivers--can be shanghaied by fraud and abuse.    

Case in point: The operator of a Michigan adult day care center and two home care company owners were convicted last week for their roles in a $29 million Medicare fraud conspiracy, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Felicar Williams operated Haven Adult Day Care Center to service beneficiaries diagnosed with mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. Williams oversaw Medicare billing for "sophisticated mental health services purportedly provided by other, unlicensed staff members," the announcement stated.

Williams' co-conspirators claimed payment through shell companies for home healthcare services that were not needed or provided, according to the DOJ. Then they falsified or destroyed documentation to hide this. Evidence presented at trial revealed that Williams sold information on his clients to home care company owners Abdul Malik Al-Jumail and his daughter Jamelia, who used this information to defraud Medicare.          

And in Winter Haven, Florida, the Medicaid fraud control unit assisted in an investigation leading to Thursday's arrest of Bonnie L. Coleman, former manager of a group home for mentally-ill beneficiaries, WFLA-TV reported. Coleman allegedly intimidated and controlled disabled residents by hitting them with a two-foot, broken broom handle made of bamboo, the Orlando Sentinel noted. Coleman was reportedly seen striking an autistic resident on the hand, though he wasn't injured. An employee of the home told authorities Coleman struck the man because he was bothering her as she handed out medications, the Sentinel added. People who live nearby told WFLA they heard loud screams coming from the facility.

Coleman's employment was terminated, and she faces up to five years behind bars and a maximum fine of $5,000.        

For more:
- read the AARP blog post
- here's the DOJ announcement
- see the WFLA piece
- view the Orlando Sentinel article