Sober living fraud allegedly continuing in Arizona

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There is an alleged Medicaid scheme occurring in Arizona. The alleged fraudulent healthcare facilities have remained unchecked for years across the Phoenix area, targeting Indigenous people who are enrolled in Arizona’s Medicaid program.

This is resulting in many becoming displaced within the city or losing their lives. Bills were introduced to address the sober living and crack down on their fraudulent practices.

Stephanie Innes, a health reporter at “The Arizona Republic” and azcentral.com, joined “Arizona Horizon” to discuss what has been occurring and the effects this has had on the Indigenous community.

“Sober living fraud is not a new thing. If you go back eight years in Florida it happened there, although the so-called fraudulent providers targeted private insurance,” Innes said. “In this case in Arizona it was the government and taxpayers that were defrauded.”

In some cases, patients were plied with alcohol and narcotics while being fraudulently billed for treatment they weren’t receiving. 

Innes explains how these Indigenous people were practically sitting ducks in this fraud. The reservations don’t have a lot of treatment facilities so individuals took advantage of this.

White vans would go up to the reservations and say if they went with them they would give them free treatment, free places to live and free meals. They would even try to lure them with free dinners just to listen to their offers.

Innes compares this to a sense of kidnapping because they would go up to these individuals while they were under the influence and easily able to be swayed.

It was in the best financial interest of these sober living homes to keep their rooms packed so they often also plied the residents with narcotics and alcohol to be able to keep billing them. The amount they were billing was in excess of $1,000 a day per patient.

Stephanie Innes, Health Reporter at The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com

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