A 74-year-old St. Louis woman will now be facing sentencing after she admitted to her role in defrauding Medicaid through home health care. The case involving Salwa Albayati stemmed from the woman’s decision to authorize home health care aides to submit for work and services provided, even while Ms. Albayati was traveling. Between 2013 and 2018, home care aides billed Medicaid $175,120 for services provided.
As reported by the Region News section of the Herald-Whig in the blog, St. Louis woman admits role in home health care fraud, written by The Associated Press:
“Prosecutors say a 74-year-old St. Louis woman admitted that she traveled internationally while claiming she was receiving home health care and other services.
Salwa Albayati pleaded guilty Friday to making false statements.
Prosecutors say Albayati signed pre-signed forms so her home health care aides could submit claims that she was receiving services at home. It would maximize the aide’s pay and Albayati would take some of the aide’s salary.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports her aides billed $175,120 between 2013 and June 2018. She also illegally received $27,618 in Social Security benefits and $2,407 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”
Prosecutors alleged that these home health care aides, even though they were submitting for services provided to Ms. Albayati, were only visiting her house about once a week, possibly twice, to check the mail, do some light cleaning, and water the plants when Ms. Albayati was out of town.
It’s unclear whether prosecutors are planning to charge the home health care aides, how many there were, or if they were part of an agency. This admission of guilt may be the first step in prosecuting all those involved. The home health care aides would have willingly and knowingly assisted in the fraudulent actions.
Ms. Albayati financially gained personally through this fraud, taking a part of the reimbursements from the home care workers involved. This would indicate they may have been independent caregivers not working for any agency in the area.
The federal government has been cracking down on home health care fraud for numerous years and for this reporter, this case is actually unique in that a client was willfully participating in fraud, to the point where she apparently didn’t believe her actions would catch up to her through any type of investigation.
As of the writing of this article, it remains unclear whether the home health care aides had been or will be charged in their role for defrauding Medicaid.