Ga. Couple Allegedly Took Medicare, Medicaid Payments While Patients Were Shorted Food, Medicine

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: "George D. Houser, 62, and his wife, 46-year-old Rhonda Washington Houser, were arraigned Friday on charges of conspiring to defraud the Medicare and Georgia Medicaid programs. George Houser also faces charges for allegedly failing to pay payroll taxes to the IRS and file personal income tax returns." Prosecutors allege that the couple, who managed three nursing homes in the state with approximately 300 residents before the state closed the homes in 2007, received more than $30 million in payments from the government and used some of that money for personal expenses. "'These defendants are charged with spending Medicare and Medicaid money to buy cars and real estate while nursing home residents went without basic necessities such as food and medicines,' U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement" (Stevens, 4/16).

The Miami Herald, on Medicare's fraud hot line in Florida, which is the only one in the country: "Medicare's fraud hot line lit up last May when some 80 Florida senior citizens received their bills showing they had received physical rehab from a Miami clinic. By September, Feliberto Ramos was arrested on fraud charges accusing him and his company, Miracle Group Rehabilitation Center, of falsely billing the federal healthcare program $3.1 million over just three months. Medicare paid Ramos $1.9 million for rehab services never provided to angry beneficiaries. The prosecution of Ramos ... marked the first time that Medicare's two-year-old fraud hot line generated a major tip that led to the shutdown of a licensed provider and the conviction of its owner" (Weaver, 4/17).

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