The owners of a home health care agency in Columbus, Ohio, admitted last week to defrauding Medicaid and building a $932,000 house with the funds, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Muna Alnoubani, 49, and her 51-year-old husband, Riyad Altallaa, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1 in Columbus federal court to conspiring to defraud Medicaid. Altallaa also pleaded guilty to money laundering and using the money to pay for the couples’ home.
Between October 2011 and March 2015, Alnoubani and Altallaa’s home health care agency, Columbus Home Health Care Services, allegedly submitted bills to Medicaid for services that were never provided. The agency also falsified patients’ medical conditions in order to bill patients for services they weren’t permitted to receive, according to a statement of facts submitted by Ben Unkefer, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Additionally, the couple reportedly fabricated home health aides’ prior work experience to make it seem as though they were qualified to provide home-health care. The agency also ordered its aides to submit false bills for taking the same shift worked by just one of them, and to submit blank time sheets that were filled out with wrong dates and hours of service, Unkefer’s statement said.
Now, Altallaa faces as many as four years in prison, while Alnoubani could be sentenced to three years on probation, The Columbus Dispatch reported, citing a plea agreement with prosecutors. Alnoubani and Altallaa are also both subject to paying restitution.
The plea agreement says the couple agreed to forfeit their house and other money to the U.S. government; in total, they’ll give the government more than $1 million.
The U.S. Office of Inspector General (OIG) in October identified “significant and persistent compliance, payment and fraud vulnerabilities” within Medicaid personal care services. The fraud harms patients, in addition to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), OIG noted in a report.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson