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[MM Curator Summary]: Ms Batrus stole $40k and lots of members did not get the med management oversight needed for quality care.
HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — An Altoona woman is facing charges for racking up more than $40,000 in Medicaid payments when she was employed as a physician’s assistant, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) reported.
Jennifer Batrus, 50, of Altoona, is accused of using the guise of the pandemic to submit payments from Medicaid for patients she never saw in person nor talked to on the phone during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the OAG, Batrus was employed as a physician’s assistant with American Family Psychiatry since March 2016. Through the investigation, it was learned that she would often travel between the Huntingdon and State College offices and see roughly 30 patients a day, four days a week.
The OAG said they were alerted by a Medicaid management company that there may be fraud taking place.
Investigators spoke to employees and patients, as well as executed search warrants at both offices before speaking with Batrus, the criminal complaint reads.
It was discovered that Batrus stopped going to the office when the COVID pandemic struck. The company began to do appointments by phone, stressing it was important to at least speak with the patients on the phone before sending their medicine every month, the documents filed in court show.
Investigators found that many patients were getting prescriptions filled though never getting a phone call from Batrus, who still allegedly billed Medicaid for office visits.
When interviewed, Batrus allegedly claimed she did it for the money after her husband’s restaurant was closed due to COVID, investigators noted.
Forensic analysis showed that Batrus’ non-existent office visits between March and December 2020, 517 of them, totaled over $40,000 that was paid out by Medicaid.
Batrus is now facing multiple felony charges for fraud, theft and submitting claims with false info and no services rendered.
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The Office of the Attorney General noted that Batrus’ license to practice medicine expired in Dec. 2022.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 5.