A Norwich-based behavioral health practice has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle claims it billed Connecticut’s Medicaid program for services offered by unlicensed therapists.
The Connecticut Attorney General Office Tuesday announced the settlement to resolve alleged violations of the state’s False Claims Act. It said Affinity Behavioral Health LLC had submitted claims for payment from April 2013 through December 2016.
As part of the settlement agreement, Julie Longton and her daughter and co-owner Leanda Zupka, admit no liability.
Longton and her daughter are both licensed. Longton is a licensed social worker while Zupka is a licensed marital and family therapist.
But the state said the women submitted claims for payment to the Medicaid program for behavioral health services rendered by employees who worked for them, but weren’t licensed to provide that care.
In addition to the payment, the agreement calls on the co-owners to implement a five-year compliance program that includes written policies, procedures and standards of conduct. It also calls for training and education. The $300,000 settlement will be returned to the state’s Medicaid program.
Neither Longton or Zupka responded to a request for comment Wednesday. Their attorney, Arnold Menchel, of Hartford’s Halloran Sage, declined to comment.
Jaclyn Severance, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, said the office would have no comment beyond what it said in a joint press release issued with the Connecticut Department of Social Services.
In the release, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said, “We take very seriously allegations of fraud and abuse in our taxpayer-funded health care programs. Behavioral health services are a critical health care benefit for those who need such counseling and our Medicaid beneficiaries should be confident that their care will be rendered by qualified, licensed providers.”
Roderick Bremby, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services, echoed Jepsen. He said, “This is the latest in a series of False Claims Act cases that demonstrate the need for continual oversight to identify and address fraud allegations.”
The investigation was conducted by Assistant Attorney General Karla Turekian, legal investigator Thomas Martin and Assistant Attorney General Michael Cole. Cole is chief of the Antitrust and Government Program Fraud Department.