How important is mental health care in the United States? “According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1 in 5 adults now lives with a moderate to severe mental health condition,” reports Mars Girolimon of Southern New Hampshire University,” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further notes that over 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with mental illness in their lifetime.” Clearly, mental health care is very important.
As reported by the Western District of Louisiana branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 34 year-old Chassidy Bell was found to be abusing her role as a Mental Health Specialist. Last week, she pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting healthcare fraud. The Shreveport resident was employed as a Mental Health Specialist at Community Health Care Solutions, LLC. Doing business as Community Health, the center was a licensed mental health rehabilitation provider.
Located in Caddo Parish, Community Health alleged to provide Crisis Intervention Services. “These types of services are provided to those who may experience a psychiatric crisis and are designed to interrupt a crisis experience,” explains the U.S. Attorney’s Office report, “Crisis Intervention Services are required to be provided face to face and are authorized up to 66 hours per crisis episode and cannot exceed 14 days.”
Community Health devised a three-year scheme.
Information presented in court revealed that between 2017 and 2020, individuals associated with the center created a scheme to defraud Medicaid. The plan was to bill the insurance program for services that were not rendered. As an employee of Community Health, Bell began creating false progress notes in June of 2019. She claimed that a Shreveport area resident displayed some very specific behaviors that required feedback in the form of crisis scenarios.
In reality, this individual did not even exist. In fact, his identity had been assigned to an undercover Medicaid card for a fictitious individual. A member of law enforcement had provided the card to an associate of Community Health in exchange for payment. Bell created the fabricated notes claiming that she was actually providing Crisis Intervention Services for this individual. As a result, Community Health billed Medicaid for services she had not rendered.
Bell created false progress notes for other individuals.
Bell also composed fake notes for other individuals purporting to provide Crisis Intervention Services. She inflated her hours of service in order to maximize billing. “In reality, Bell did not provide any services to the individuals she created progress notes for, or either provided non-Crisis Intervention Services and documented them incorrectly as Crisis Intervention Services,” informs the report.
Bell bilked Medicaid out of $63,441.32. This was the grand total of the payments given to Community Health based on the false and fictitious progress notes she wrote. She now faces a prison sentence of up to 25 years plus 3 years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Her sentencing date has been scheduled for April 24, 2024.
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