After an almost two-year-long legal battle, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford have reached a $200,000 settlement with an East Hartford Behavioral Health Provider for Medicaid fraud.

The State of Connecticut had originally filed charges against The Center of Attention, LLC: No One Left Behind and its owner Selina Christian in April 2018. Christian’s business had been participating in Connecticut’s Medicaid program — the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program (CMAP). The state alleged that the center created false medical records and claims to increase profits for four years. In addition to the $200,000 in damages, Christian’s business has been suspended from CMAP for five years, in a settlement reached Jan. 29.

“This case is another reminder that health care providers who engage in false and fraudulent claims will be investigated thoroughly and will face various penalties. While not representing the vast majority of dedicated Medicaid-enrolled providers, this and similar enforcement actions help safeguard the integrity of our publicly-funded program,” Gifford said in a press release.

The scam was discovered when a fraud referral from the DSS office triggered a state investigation. Christian was submitting high volumes of psychotherapy services for patients. Tong’s investigation yielded evidence that no such services existed.

Instead, Tong’s office discovered that Christian billed CMAP more than $1.8 million for these non-existent services. Christian and the Center of Attention also fabricated nonreimbursable claims for transportation and children activities like “Pajama Jam.” The charges against Christian were filed under the Connecticut False Claims Act.

According to the settlement agreement, Christian continues to maintain no wrongdoing, but she is freely entering the stipulation and claims to have the funds to pay the settlement.

Christian’s total $200,000 debt to the state will be broken up into three parts. The first installment is a balance of $15,000, required within two weeks of Jan. 29. The second payment is a $149,739.47 withholding of suspended Medicaid payments from The Center of Attention. The remaining $35,260.53 will be paid through monthly installments.

“We will continue to be vigilant in protecting our taxpayer-funded healthcare programs,” Tong said.

Connecticut’s Medicaid system has been subject to regular fraud claims in the past. In 2018, an ex-Bridgeport resident plead guilty to $2.5 million in Medicaid fraud. This January, a Waterbury children’s therapy clinic agreed to pay $39,471 in a settlement with federal prosecutors.

Connecticut is one of the 35 states that has accepted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Talat Aman |