Nevada County gets funds to combat in-home services fraud
Sun News Service
GRASS VALLEY, Calif. and#8212; Nevada County has been allocated $67,000 to combat in-home services fraud and#8212; and officials are thrilled to have it.
and#8220;Itand#8217;s about time,and#8221; Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson said Tuesday. and#8220;You would think in-home services would be scrutinized more, so this is great.and#8221;
About 640 people receive in-home support services through a state-funded program that is supervised at the county level. Over the course of the year, the number ranges from about 630 to about 650 people, Nevada County Health and Human Services Assistant Director Alison Lehman said.
The lack of regulation and on-site checks of service providers have led to it being a haven for otherwise unemployable people who prey on the elderly or disabled, Ferguson said.
The district attorneyand#8217;s office has prosecuted six cases of in-home services fraud in the last two years, Lehman said. During the same time 22 cases were filed, involving $33,000 allegedly stolen by care-givers.
About $13,000 of that has already been recovered, Lehman said. The initial step for the county social worker entrusted with in-home services fraud cases is to recover the funds, before turning to prosecution, Lehman said.
Most overpayments made to providers are mistakes, such as time sheet errors, and are not fraudulent claims for services not rendered, Lehman said. A common error is for providers to put down work days as paid when their client is in the hospital, she added.
The county will take the state funding for the current fiscal year and create an and#8220;early fraud detection program,and#8221; Lehman said.
It will include tighter screening for in-home MediCal care applicants and provide for annual reassessments in peopleand#8217;s homes.
The program also will include background checks and fingerprinting for all in-home service providers and fingerprints of people receiving care, according to Gov. Schwarzeneggerand#8217;s office.
Time sheets will have to be signed by both the provider and recipient of services, and providers canand#8217;t use Post Office boxes for their paychecks, according to Schwarzeneggerand#8217;s Web site.
Unannounced home visits by more state investigators also will be part of Californiaand#8217;s $26.5 million plan to battle the in-home services fraud.
The county has not received its $67,000 yet, but the Board of Supervisors approved a plan in December needed to land the funding, Lehman said.
and#8220;Weand#8217;re fully confident it will be approved and fully funded,and#8221; Lehman said.