A Reading, Pennsylvania woman is facing charges of Medicaid fraud. Vanessa M. Vargas, 29, is accused of submitting hours she worked as a home care attendant to multiple agencies. According to authorities, Ms. Vargas defrauded Medicaid for a total of $15,500 when she was providing care for a woman with whom she lived.
According to the Reading Eagle blog, Home health care worker in Reading charged with $15,500 in Medicaid fraud, written by reporter Steven Henshaw:
“Vanessa M. Vargas, 29, submitted her work hours for attendant-care services to one agency while simultaneously submitting billing for the same hours for services to the same woman to another agency, officials with the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office said in the criminal complaint filed Thursday.
This led to an overpayment of about $15,500 by the state Medical Assistance program, officials said.
Vargas of the 300 block of South Fourth Street was charged with felony counts of Medicaid fraud, submitting false claims, and theft by deception or false impression.”
Vanessa Vargas did receive approval to be a personal care attendant, which in Pennsylvania is also referred to as a direct care worker, for a woman who needed assistance and with whom she lived. She applied under the state’s Waiver Program.
This is very similar to basic home care support services in which a personal care attendant would help out with various activities of daily living, which may include getting dressed, bathing, toileting, assisting with personal hygiene, preparing meals, and even doing some light housework and shopping for the individual.
Ms. Vargas allegedly provided these services for the woman she lived with, but instead of submitting her timesheets, or hours she worked, to one oversight agency, she submitted it to another one as well. This double billing took place between May 8, 2017 and September 1, 2017.
Essentially, Ms. Vargas transferred the services she had been providing from one service coordination agency to another, allowing her to double dip, or double bill.
There was no initial report on whether Vanessa Vargas had obtained legal counsel or entered an initial plea in this case. It also wasn’t noted how authorities originally determined that Ms. Vargas was double billing for these services, whether she had been reported by an agency or another individual. It was also not made clear if this was part of a larger conspiracy involving other individuals.
Medicaid fraud continues to be a significant issue that is costing taxpayers and, ultimately, the people who need in-home care support the most, and it appears there are multiple ways to defraud Medicaid.