The state and federal government have reached a joint settlement agreement that calls for a licensed Waterford psychologist to pay $126,760 for allegedly billing Medicaid for services that were not provided.
On July 3, the offices of the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut and the Connecticut attorney general said they entered into a civil settlement with Dr. Arlene Werner to resolve allegations she violated the state and federal false claims acts. Werner is the owner of a private psychology practice near the Rhode Island border.
As part of the agreement, Werner’s attorney said Thursday she admitted no wrongdoing.
“There is no admission of responsibility. There are no fraud admissions at all,” said William McCoy, of Heller, Heller & McCoy in Uncasville. McCoy did not elaborate, and Werner did not respond to a request for comment.
The government alleged Werner billed Medicaid not only for psychotherapy services not provided, but also billed Medicaid for family psychotherapy sessions for multiple family members from January 2011 through July 2016, when she should have billed one family member for individual services. The agreement, the government said, also calls for Werner to be suspended from participation in the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program, which includes the state’s Medicaid program, for two years.
Tom Carson, spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, declined to elaborate beyond an emailed statement from U.S. Attorney John Durham.
“It is imperative that providers accurately bill Medicaid and other insurance programs,” Durham said in the statement. “Working with our federal and state partners, we will continue to protect the integrity of the Medicaid program to ensure its recipients receive the healthcare services they need.”
A representative for the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office did not respond to a request for comment by press time. In an emailed statement to the media, Attorney General George Jepsen said, “My office will continue to vigorously pursue those who seek to defraud our public healthcare programs.”
The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Thidemann and Assistant Attorney General Antonia Conti of the state Attorney General’s Office. Investigator Larry Marini and Assistant Attorney General Michael Cole, chief of the Antitrust and Government Program, Fraud Department, assisted the Attorney General’s Office in the matter.
Under the False Claims Act, the government can recoup up to three times its actual damages, plus penalties of $11,181 to $22,363 for each false claim.