(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that a judge has ordered a co-owner of A Caring Alternative, a home health care agency in Cleveland, to pay nearly $262,000 in restitution to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services after an investigation revealed she was hiring home health care aides who did not pass background checks.
Agents in the Health Care Fraud Division of the Ohio Attorney General's Office said Rose Radovanic, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by deception, hired the home health aides, despite their criminal convictions, because they signed up elderly family members or friends to become clients of the company. The corporation then billed Medicaid for the services the workers illegally provided to the new and current clients.
"Our elderly residents need to know they are safe when they invite health care aides into their homes, which is the main reason why we require background checks for home health aides," said Attorney General Mike DeWine. "I find it incredibly disturbing that anyone would blatantly ignore a person's convictions and allow them into the homes of our most vulnerable adults."
As the result of a bench trial this week in Columbus, the judge also ordered that A Caring Alternative pay more than $242,000 in restitution and $15,000 in fines be paid out of the business's assets. The second co-owner was acquitted on all charges.
Agents began investigating the company more than a year ago after a client ran a background check on his aide and found she had a criminal history. Investigators later found health aides with a slew of previous convictions, including a woman convicted of domestic violence for trying to hit her wheelchair bound mother with a beer bottle and a man with a previous robbery conviction who was also investigated after leaving his elderly father on the floor for three days before calling 911.
"When I learned about the accusations in this case, I made it a priority in my office to examine the laws regulating the employment of convicted criminals in the home health and transportation area of the Medicaid program," said DeWine. "We found several serious loopholes and helped create a consistent background check policy across all home health care agencies."
That plan was included in the Mid-Biennium Review which is currently in the hands of Governor John Kasich to potentially become law.
The Attorney General's Health Care Fraud Section investigates and prosecutes health care providers who defraud the state's Medicaid program. The Section also investigates alleged misappropriations of patient funds and enforces Ohio laws protecting mentally or physically disabled or elderly citizens from financial exploitation, neglect and abuse in long-term care facilities.
Anyone who suspects Medicaid fraud or patient abuse or neglect can contact Attorney General DeWine's office at 1-800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.