Posts Tagged ‘Medicaid’

Chesterfield Psychiatrist Admits Health Care Fraud

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Dr. Franco Sicuro, a psychiatrist from Chesterfield, Missouri, pleaded guilty November 15, 2022 to a felony conspiracy charge and admitted that Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers lost more than $3.8 million based on fraudulent reimbursement claims submitted by clinical laboratories that he owned.

Sicuro was associated with various health care businesses including Millennium Psychiatric Associates, Advanced Geriatric Management, Centrec Care, Sleep Consultants of St. Louis, Midwest Toxicology Group, Genotec Dx and Benemed Diagnostics.

Criminal Fraud is rampant in the psychiatric industry. Psychiatric membership bodies do not police this criminality. Instead, as former president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Paul Fink, arrogantly admitted, “It is the task of the APA to protect the earning power of psychiatrists.”

The mental health monopoly has practically zero accountability and zero liability for its failures. This has allowed psychiatrists to commit far more than just financial fraud, such as repeated allegations of physical and sexual abuse involving patients in various psychiatric facilities.

The primary purpose of mental health treatment must be the therapeutic care and treatment of individuals who are suffering emotional disturbance. It must never be the financial or personal gain of the practitioner.

Experience has shown that there are many criminal mental health practitioners. If you become aware of such, file a fraud report here: https://www.cchr.org/take-action/report-psychiatric-abuse.html.

What is needed is legislation that provides not only more effective oversight but also stronger accountability measures: criminal and civil penalties, removal from CMS programs (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and their funding, and hospital closure where systemic abuse is found. Only such a comprehensive solution can begin to thwart the level of abuse, fraud and malpractice that is so widespread today in the for-profit mental health industry. Contact your local, state and federal representatives and express your opinions about this.

Doctor Pleads Guilty to Mental Health Care Fraud

Monday, November 7th, 2022

A Stratford, Connecticut internist pleaded guilty November 3, 2022 in Hartford federal court to health care fraud and kickback offenses.

Dr. Ananthakumar Thillainathan, 44, a citizen of Sri Lanka and owner and president of MDCareNow LLC, a medical practice with offices in Stratford and Milford, submitted to Connecticut Medicaid over $800,000 in fraudulent claims for psychotherapy services that he knew patients did not receive.

Thillainathan submitted fraudulent claims to Medicaid that falsely represented his employees had rendered 60-minute psychotherapy sessions when, in fact, his employees only had very brief conversations with patients, had only left a voicemail for patients, or had no contact with patients at all.

This news shows that mental health care fraud is being perpetrated not only by psychiatrists but also by non-psychiatric medical doctors engaged in mental health care.

The fact is, mental health care fraud in the U.S. is estimated to be up to $20 billion per year. There should be no place for criminal intent or deed in the field of mental health.

There are as many types of mental health insurance fraud as the criminal mind can invent. For example, a U.S. congressional committee issued a report estimating that Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) had diverted between $40 million to $100 million to improper uses. Various CMHCs had built tennis courts and swimming pools with their federal construction grants and, in one instance, used a federal staff grant to hire a lifeguard and swimming instructor. [Reference: Rael Isaac and Virginia Armat, Madness in the Streets, (The Free Press, New York, 1990), p. 98.]

The primary purpose of mental health treatment must be the therapeutic care and treatment of individuals who are suffering emotional disturbance. It must never be the financial or personal gain of the practitioner. Those suffering are inevitably vulnerable and impressionable. Proper treatment therefore demands the highest level of trustworthiness and integrity in the practitioner.

Experience has shown that there are many criminal mental health practitioners. If you become aware of such, file a report about this fraud here: https://www.cchr.org/take-action/report-psychiatric-abuse.html.

Putting Profit Above Children’s Lives

Monday, August 30th, 2021

The child mental health industry is a system that puts profit above children’s lives, preying on unsuspecting parents and taking advantage of disadvantaged children, such as those covered under Medicaid (state and federal health coverage for lower income families and those with disabilities). It is rife with abuse, yet this hugely profitable industry is rarely held to account for its rampant abuse of our most vulnerable—children.

It is an industry which milks the foster care system for huge profit, where children are four times more likely to be given mind-altering psychotropic drugs than non-foster care children, and much more likely to be prescribed cocktails of these drugs.

It is an industry that electroshocks children including babies, using state funds for lower income families (Medicaid).

It is a business masquerading as healthcare which sells parents and legislators on the idea of helping troubled children. Yet this help is more often simply incarcerating children in behavioral schools or psychiatric wards, where treatment consists of psychiatric drug cocktails, degradation, solitary confinement, and brutal restraint procedures which have killed children. And all of this is done under the guise of helping children.

The abuse is not limited to one chain of psychiatric facilities or one mode of psychiatric behavioral “treatment.” This abuse in the child mental health industry is systemic—yet unknown to most of the public.

For example: Information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reveals that 19 states are currently administering electroshock to children, with 7 of those states electroshocking children aged 0-5 years old. These are all children being electroshocked while psychiatrists and facilities bill Medicaid for their “treatment.”

Yet another example — Only one month after the world witnessed the tragic death of George Floyd, unable to breathe as he was physically restrained and held to the ground, 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick, an African American, was physically restrained at Sequel Youth & Family Services’ facility in Michigan, and also cried out, “I can’t breathe!” before passing out. Thirty hours later, on May 1, 2020, he was dead. Cornelius had gone into cardiac arrest while being restrained by Lakeside Academy staff, a residential psychiatric facility that treated foster care and other kids with behavioral issues. A witness to Cornelius’s restraint said, “[T]his kid threw a sandwich. He was being unruly and they couldn’t control him. So, four guys…the size of rugby players tackled him.”

Cornelius is not alone; countless children have suffocated and died after being subjected to deadly restraints within these psychiatric facilities and behavioral treatment centers.

This is not healthcare. This is child abuse. And it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Please help us to support the cause and end the abuse of children in the psychiatric industry. We are making incredible progress, as many of the psychiatric facilities abusing these children are now under investigation. And many state legislators want to put an end to this abuse. There is more to be done, and so we ask you to continue to support our Fight For Kids campaign. Please support the cause and also watch our latest video here.

For more information, visit our Child Psychiatric Treatment page here.

Childhood Is Not A Mental Disorder

Great Circle Child Abuse in Missouri

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Great Circle, the largest provider of residential psychiatric treatment for juveniles (mainly in foster care) in Missouri, announced February 15 2021 that it will shut down its residential treatment program in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis.

The FBI raided them on February 2, 2021 due to alleged child abuse. The Missouri Department of Social Services had suspended placements there on January 22, 2021. Webster Groves police arrested three of their employees on suspicion of child abuse. The nonprofit’s former CEO, Vincent Hillyer, was charged with child abuse in 2019.

Great Circle has 12 other residential facilities in Missouri for juvenile psychiatric treatment which so far remain open, although the FBI raid included their facility near St. James, Missouri.

The psychiatric abuse of foster children is a growing concern, especially the use of harmful and addictive psychiatric drugs as a restraint mechanism.

A previous lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Social Services claimed that children in Missouri foster care are at increased risk of being improperly or unnecessarily administered psychotropic drugs, leaving the children vulnerable to various serious adverse effects, including hallucinations, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Roughly 13,000 children are in Missouri’s foster care system. More than 30% of them are prescribed these harmful drugs, and 20% are taking two or more drugs at the same time. Medicaid pays for a majority of the healthcare services that children in foster care receive, including psychotropic drugs.

Most psychotropic drugs have not been FDA approved to treat children, who are at great risk of serious harm from these drugs because the drugs play Russian Roulette with neurotransmitters in the brain.

Contact your State legislators and let them know what you think about this.

[UPDATE 3/3/2021] Four additional employees of Great Circle are now charged with abusing residents, including two children with autism. 

[UPDATE 3/31/2021] A Missouri Department of Social Services audit of Medicaid claims for services paid through the state to Great Circle identified $1,992,157 in “improper billing.”

Babies Under a Year Old Being Given Harmful Psychiatric Drugs

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

CCHR International obtained the real statistics on the number of U.S. children being prescribed psychiatric drugs: 7.2 million.

Of those, 508,000 are aged 2-5 years old, equal to the entire population of Sacramento, California. 125,000 are babies aged 0-1.

If you’re trying to visualize that number, it’s more babies than would fit into the largest college football stadium in the U.S. (Michigan Stadium, also known as “The Big House.”)

Why this isn’t generally reported is because we were only able to obtain these statistics through the purchase of a costly official report, a truly vital endeavor, made possible only through your donations.

From this, the question you’re probably asking is How on earth could 125,000 babies be put on powerful mind altering drugs?

It’s a logical question. We believe we have the answer and that with your help, together we can do something about it.

CCHR has long suspected that one of the reasons there are so many children on drugs, particularly ones so young and even babies, is through MEDICAID, which is state and federal funding for low income families, their children, as well as for foster care children. There is a financial incentive for child drugging because of Medicaid, as the states receive funding based on costs incurred for treating children, including with psychotropic drugs.

A 2015 report on Medicaid found: “The high rates of psychotropic medication use in the Medicaid population, risks associated with these drugs, and research documenting inappropriate prescribing, have raised concerns, especially for children involved in the child welfare system.”

While there has been some media coverage on this issue and concern raised by legislators, nothing truly effective is being done about it. Moreover, there has never been a state-by-state analysis of exactly how many babies and toddlers are being drugged, using taxpayer dollars (i.e. Medicaid).

In order to fully expose this, and what state legislators are unwittingly funding (baby, toddler and child drugging), CCHR International began filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for state Medicaid records (FOIA only applies to government agencies). What we have found to date is confirming our suspicions. Consider the number of Medicaid-funded children being drugged in the following states:

Georgia 177,469
Pennsylvania 150,250
Illinois 74,635
Utah 46,241

For Missouri in 2014, for example, there were 24,388 children, in or out of foster care, who were receiving public mental health services (meaning they were likely on one or more psychotropic drugs.) Total foster care drug costs have averaged roughly $16 Million per year in Missouri. More than 30 percent of Missouri’s roughly 13,000 Medicaid foster children per month are on at least one psychotropic medication, with 20 percent taking two or more psychotropic medications at the same time.

We can pretty much guarantee that state legislators are unaware that funds are being used to drug so many toddlers and infants. And because Medicaid is funded by the states, legislators can do something about it.

The idea of putting vulnerable babies and toddlers on drugs is horrifying. All of this can be hard to confront. But we must. With your help we can not only expose it, but demand that those in power do something about it.

Please contact your State Representatives and Senators and let them know what you think about this. In Missouri, find your Representative and Senator by 9-digit Zip Code here:http://www.senate.mo.gov/legislookup/ZipLookup.aspx.

Be a Hero and help someone who has been a victim of psychiatric abuse by making a tax deductible donation to CCHR St. Louis!

Missouri Mental Health Clinic Owner Sentenced to Prison

Monday, April 20th, 2020
The owner of a St. Louis-area mental health clinic was sentenced February 28, 2020 to 18 months in federal prison for billing for therapy for a patient who was already dead.

Naim Muhammad, 56, of St. Charles, pleaded guilty last November to making a false claim to Medicaid. In addition to prison time, Muhammad must pay $366,185 in restitution to the Missouri Medicaid program.

Muhammad was president of Community Behavioral Health when he billed the Missouri Medicaid program for mental health therapy services to a female patient starting on June 21, 2017. But federal prosecutors said the patient actually died on June 8, 2017. Mr. Muhammad had no psychiatric training or license.

What, did he think no one would notice? The Office of Inspector General investigated this case for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from the Division of Professional Registration of the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Mental Health Care Fraud

A significant portion of government appropriations and insurance reimbursements has been lost due to financial fraud within the mental health industry. The United States loses approximately $100 billion to healthcare fraud each year. Up to $40 billion of this is due to fraudulent practices in the mental health industry. One study of U.S. Medicaid and Medicare insurance fraud showed psychiatry to have the worst track record of all medical disciplines.

The mental health monopoly has practically zero accountability and zero liability for its failures. As experience has shown that there are many criminal mental health practitioners, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has developed a database at www.psychcrime.org that lists people in the mental health industry who have been convicted and jailed.

There is no place for criminal intent or deed in the field of mental health. If you are aware of such malfeasance, you may wish to report what you have seen. Contact CCHR to make a report and find out what actions can be taken.
Occupy Psychiatry

Missouri Settlement Changes Psychiatric Drug Use in Foster Kids

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

A class action federal lawsuit [Case No. 2:17-cv-04102-NKL] against the Missouri Department of Social Services alleging the overdrugging of foster children with harmful and addictive psychotropic drugs was given preliminary approval for settlement by U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughrey (Western District of Missouri) on Monday, July 15, 2019.

[Update 1: On December 5, 2019 the Court granted final approval of the Settlement Agreement.]

[Update 2: In an April 3, 2020 order, U.S. District Judge  Nanette K. Laughrey awarded a total of $3,253,651 in fees and $132,907 in expenses to the team of 20 plaintiffs’ attorneys.]

The case was first filed in June 2017 by national non-profit organizations Children’s Rights and the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), the Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics, and pro-bono counsel Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The lawsuit claimed that children in Missouri foster care are at increased risk of being improperly or unnecessarily administered psychotropic drugs, leaving the children vulnerable to various serious adverse effects, including hallucinations, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Roughly 13,000 children are in Missouri’s foster care system. More than 30% of them are prescribed these harmful drugs, and 20% are taking two or more drugs at the same time. Medicaid pays for a majority of the healthcare services that children in foster care receive, including psychotropic drugs.

Most psychotropic drugs have not been FDA approved to treat children, who are at great risk of serious harm from these drugs because the drugs play Russian Roulette with neurotransmitters in the brain.

The settlement calls for multiple reforms, although without any of the defendants admitting any liability concerning any of the claims or allegations in the complaint. Objections, support, or comments by Class members or their legal representatives (or other interested parties) can be provided by October 23, 2019 per the “Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement in M.B., et al. v. Tidball, et al.

The Missouri Department of Social Services, on behalf of the Missouri Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services, has contracted with the University of Missouri-Columbia to constitute a Center for Excellence within its Department of Psychiatry to undertake various responsibilities regarding this settlement, for roughly $3.8 million through July 31, 2021, although this contract is not specifically part of the settlement. While we applaud the Missouri government for taking action to address the abuse of foster children in their care, we must note that having psychiatrists oversee psychiatric abuse is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Specific commitments of the settlement include (these provisions are only briefly summarized here; refer to the actual settlement for full details):
1. Children’s Division (CD) shall maintain a full-time employee responsible for overseeing the implementation of policies and procedures concerning the use of psychotropic drugs for children in CD foster care.
2. Provisions for CD Case Management Staff Training.
3. Provisions for Resource Provider Training.
4. Provisions for training in the child welfare community serving children in Missouri.
5. CD shall maintain sufficient Case Management Staff to perform functions of the agreement.
6. Every child shall have a mental health assessment prior to being prescribed a psychotropic drug.
7. Every child prescribed a psychotropic drug shall have medical examinations.
8. Every child prescribed a psychotropic drug for ongoing use shall have monitoring appointments.
9. Every child prescribed a psychotropic drug shall receive concurrent nonpharmacological treatment.
10. Defendants are committed to developing and operating one or more statewide systems for maintaining medical records and/or medical information of each child in the custody of CD.
11. Defendants are committed to developing and operating one or more systems whereby pertinent medical records and/or medical information of the child will be made available to appropriate members of the child’s treatment team.
12. CD will implement and maintain a system for conducting secondary reviews of prescriptions of psychotropic drugs prescribed to children in the legal custody of CD.
13. CD shall maintain a policy governing informed consent and informed assent for psychotropic drugs, including a process for parental disagreement. The difference between consent and assent is basically that consent comes from the case manager and assent comes from the child.
14. Provisions for emergency administration of psychotropic drugs.
15.Defendants will appoint and maintain a psychotropic drug Advisory Committee to provide professional and technical consultation and policy advice.
16. Provisions for excessive dosage guidelines.

There are other provisions for data validation, enforcement, reporting, and exit criteria from the agreement. Refer to the actual agreement for these details.

Go here for more information about psychiatric abuse in the foster care system.

Psychiatric Hospitals With Safety Violations Still Get Accreditation

Monday, April 15th, 2019

The Wall Street Journal reported December 26, 2018 that 141 psychiatric hospitals across the U.S. remained fully accredited despite serious safety violations between 2014 and 2015, including the death, abuse or sexual assault of patients.

A lot of money is at stake: Medicare payments to inpatient psychiatric facilities reached $4.5 billion in 2017, growing an average of 1% each year since 2006.

Evidence repeatedly shows that patients are at risk in for-profit psychiatric facilities that lack effective oversight.

The largest U.S. psychiatric hospital chain, owned by Universal Health Services (UHS) has approximately 200 behavioral facilities in the U.S. alone. As of September 2018, UHS had set aside $90 million in reserves to potentially settle a Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into its billing practices involving 30 behavioral facilities and UHS headquarters. UHS continues to come under scrutiny for patient abuse, yet is allowed to purchase or build more psychiatric hospitals.

Another major behavioral hospital chain is owned by Acadia Healthcare, which has 586 mental health and substance abuse facilities nationwide. Both these chains capture billions of dollars in Medicaid and Medicare funding in an overall $220 billion-a-year U.S. behavioral health industry.

The potential for fraud in these two chains alone could be upwards of $230 million to $460 million. Over the past decade, UHS has already accounted for about $37 million in False Claims Act settlements and fines.

Psychiatric Times estimates that between 10 and 20 percent of state mental health funds are lost to fraud, waste, and excess profits to for-profit managed care companies—representing $5 billion-$10 billion.

The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) says that individual victims of health care fraud are sadly easy to find. These are people who are exploited and subjected to unnecessary or unsafe medical procedures, or whose medical records are compromised or whose legitimate insurance information is used to submit falsified claims.

Many health care fraud investigators believe mental health caregivers, such as psychiatrists and psychologists, have the worst fraud record of all medical disciplines.

What is needed is legislation that provides not only more effective oversight but also stronger accountability measures: criminal and civil penalties, removal from Medicare and Medicaid programs and their funding, and hospital closure where systemic abuse is found.

Click here for more information about massive psychiatric fraud.

Over-Drugging Foster Care Children

Monday, October 29th, 2018

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released their September, 2018 reportTreatment Planning and Medication Monitoring Were Lacking for Children in Foster Care Receiving Psychotropic Medication.

A previous 2015 OIG report found serious quality-of-care concerns in the treatment of children with psychotropic drugs. This year’s report follows up on that with a sample of 625 children in foster care from the 5 States that had the highest utilization of psychotropic medications in their foster care populations in FY 2013 — Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Virginia.

Medicaid pays for a majority of the healthcare services that children in foster care receive, including psychotropic drugs. In 2013, the most recent year for which there was complete data available in the Medicaid Statistical Information System, state Medicaid programs paid approximately $366 million for psychotropic drugs for nearly 240,000 children in foster care up to age 21.

This table shows some of the data for these five states, plus Missouri for comparison, and the totals for all 50 states.

State (FY2013)Population of Children in Foster CareNumber of Children in Foster Care Treated with Psychotropic DrugsPercentage of Children in Foster Care Treated with Psychotropic DrugsTotal Medicaid fee-for-service Expenditures for Psychotropic Drugs for Children in Foster Care
Iowa13,9514,98135.70%$7,135,849
Maine3,5271,15532.70%$1,600,692
New Hampshire2,61494436.10%$1,741,581
North Dakota2,7341,02137.30%$1,184,934
Virginia14,9995,58437.20%$11,959,404
Missouri34,8179,84728.30%$26,130,684
Total All 50 States1,073,340238,46522.20%$365,555,960

What OIG Found
In these five states, one in three children in foster care who were treated with psychotropic drugs did not receive treatment planning or drug monitoring as required by the states.

The HHS Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is responsible for awarding Federal funding to states’ child welfare programs and for overseeing those programs. Ostensibly they require each state to comply with approriate treatment planning and drug monitoring. Unfortunately, not only is this not consistently occurring, it is not consistently being done with the professional practice guidelines from psychiatric professional organizations. In other words, it isn’t really being professional or effective, to the detriment of many thousands of foster care children across the country.

OIG recognizes that these drugs can have serious adverse side effects, and the 34% of children who did not receive treatment planning or drug monitoring are liable to be the ones experiencing issues such as too many mind-altering drugs, incorrect dosages, incorrect durations, incorrect indications for use, or inappropriate treatments.

ACF complains that they have statutory and regulatory constraints that prevent them from fully implementing and reporting on treatment planning and drug monitoring. And the states have been getting away with lax treatment planning and drug monitoring because they can, putting foster care children at risk, while consuming nearly $366 million in taxpayer funds for harmful and addictive drugs that may be entirely inappropriate for many vulnerable children.

More than 30 percent of Missouri’s current foster children population are on at least one psychotropic medication, with 20 percent taking two or more psychotropic medications at the same time. This is almost twice the national rate of such prescriptions. These drugs are known to cause violence and suicide, as well as being addictive. Foster children are drugged with these harmful psychotropics at 13 times the rate of children living with their parents.

The real problem is that psychiatrists fraudulently diagnose children’s problems as an “illness”, and stigmatize unwanted behavior or study problems as “diseases.” Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful.

Click here for more information about psychiatric drugs harming foster care children.

Medical Kidnapping

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Whether under the care of Child Protective Services, Departments of Family and Child Services, or Youth Welfare Offices, foster children — often removed from family homes because of alleged abuse — are further abused when they are prescribed psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs. Already troubled over their circumstances, these children are drugged for emotional and behavioral issues, sometimes with tragic outcome.

The high rates of psychotropic drug use in the Medicaid population, risks associated with these drugs, and research documenting inappropriate prescribing, have raised concerns, especially for children involved in the child welfare system.

Have you ever heard of Medical Kidnapping? It’s when the government removes a family member from their home for some kind of medical reason.

Some of the “medical” reasons given are: asking for a second opinion, disagreeing with a doctor, refusing to give or take a prescribed psychiatric drug, parents not vaccinating their kids, someone said there was some kind of medical abuse, someone said there was some kind of medical emergency.

Now there’s a web site for it: http://medicalkidnap.com/.

“Though much of the public may still believe that Child Protective Services must have a good reason whenever they take children away from their parents, the curtain is increasingly being pulled back to expose the ugly truth behind the facade. Children are seized from their families many times over false allegations and lies. Deception within social services is the norm, not the exception.”

Medical kidnapping of children may be far more prevalent than anyone has realized.

Children in foster care are three times more likely to be prescribed harmful and addictive psychiatric drugs, making them a large market for the psycho-pharmaceutical industry. Psychiatrists prescribed 93% of the psychotropic drugs dispensed to foster youths, according to a 2008 study.

It is legal in Missouri to conduct medical research on foster children, albeit with various forms and approvals.

“Just as social workers and family courts don’t require actual evidence to take children from their families, objective testing and evidence is not required for a psychiatrist to label someone with a mental illness – a label that can follow the child for years, or forever.”

Click here for more information about psychiatric drugging of foster children.