North Carolina state officials have reported that they plan to nullify the license of a Greensboro youth treatment facility over a recent Medicaid scheme. United Youth Care Services, which treated clients with substance abuse concerns, provided housing to those in their care and reportedly caused many patients’ addictions to become worse.
The program received a total of three letters from the Division of Health Service Regulation last month, all addressed to Sandra Grace, the location’s clinical director. United Youth Care Services was fined over $6,000 and barred from accepting new clients, as well as being informed that their license would soon be revoked, and that they would no longer be able to provide services.
The Division of Health Service Regulation has since released a 60-page report outlining misconduct by the agency’s officials, including interviews conducted by the state with current and former clients and employees. The agency allegedly recruited clients specifically due to the fact that they were on Medicaid and promised them free housing on the sole condition that their Medicaid could be billed by United Youth Care Services.
The report detailed that the chief executive and president of the agency paid for “substandard” housing in various locations throughout Greensboro, exploiting their clients by making their housing access reliant on the ability for their Medicaid to be billed and reimbursed for treatments through the facility which may or may not have taken place or been executed correctly. Many former clients reported that their addictions became worse under the care of United Youth Care Services.
“We believe that the accusations are based on inaccurate media articles and, certainly, due process has not been rendered,” said Knicole Emanuel, legal counsel to United Youth Care Services, in a statement. Emanuel is also representing Ready4Change, another Greensboro organization facing similar sanctions.
Although the center is able to appeal the revocation of their license with the presentation of plans to correct any issues, it is unclear whether or not they will begin that process. However, the report is grave; it depicts a series of corruption, illegal practices and intimidation.
A former employee said in an interview that she was a recruiter for United Youth Care Services, and that she was told to make, “announcements to potential United Youth Care Services, Inc. clients at the Department of Social Services, bus stops, while riding public buses, parks, the courthouse, and any other public places where she thought people with Medicaid may be.” She was quoted as saying, “I gave out pamphlets and business cards. ‘Hey girl you got Medicaid, I’m gonna hook you up (with housing).’”
Another former employee told state officials she was told to forge medical records and state that the center was treating clients even if they were not, which allowed the organization to collect Medicaid reimbursements.
“We were writing notes for people who were not in group or attend(ing) class,” stated the former employee in the report. “We have a sign in sheet. Sometimes people would sign in for other people, sometimes people who were not on the sign in sheet would have a note. Workers were asked … to write notes that (were) already billed on knowing they were not in a group. Notes were written dishonestly.”
The report also holds testimonies from former clients that told officials they were pressured into saying they did drugs and needed treatment for their addiction in order to receive housing. Records now show that the people illegally placed in “free” housing by United Youth Care Services are now at risk of eviction and homelessness.
Brett Byerly is the executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition, a group that helps people find temporary and affordable housing, and says that even if the people in these units are not immediately evicted, there will be “15-20 households” with no place to go. Residents of an apartment complex where many families were placed by United Youth Care Services have told officials that their apartments are infested with bugs and have broken windows and doors. Another affected complex had its power shut off by Duke Energy when the leasing agency United Youth Care Services hired failed to pay the bill.
Most of the units have since been condemned by inspectors for an array of code violations, displaying the true extent of the alleged practices of United Youth Care Services.