FWA (RI/NY)Nursing home chain owners charged with stealing $83M in Medicaid money

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[MM Curator Summary]: “More info on the “un-named” NH owners we also saw in a NY case last week.”



Clipped from: https://pbn.com/nursing-home-chain-owners-charged-with-stealing-83m-in-medicaid-money/


CENTERS HEALTH CARE operates 47 facilities in the Northeast, including three in Rhode Island.

PROVIDENCE – The owners of a Centers Health Care were charged on Wednesday in a massive fraud scheme that allegedly siphoned off $83 million of Medicaid money for personal gain. 

The multistate chain operates 47 facilities throughout the Northeast, with three in Rhode Island, the Bannister Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care in Providence, the Kingston Center in West Kingston and the Oak Hill Center in Pawtucket

The diversion of funds resulted in “significant resident neglect, harm, and humiliation” at three of the chain’s homes in and around New York City and another near Buffalo, said New York State’s Attorney General Letitia James in a statement. 

The chain’s Rhode Island facilities were not named in the filing. Brian Hodge, a spokesperson for R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, said his office was reviewing the allegations. Joseph Wendelken, spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Health, said “we are aware of that lawsuit in New York.”

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The complaint involving the company’s New York facilities claims the owners operated the nursing homes with insufficient staffing in order to increase their own profits. Attorney James said residents were “forced to sit for hours in their own urine and feces, suffered from severe dehydration, malnutrition, and increased risk of death, developed infections and sepsis from untreated bed sores and inconsistent wound care, sustained life-changing injuries from falls, and died.” 

Centers Health Care spokesperson, Jeff Jacomowitz, emailed PBN a statement refuting the allegations. He emphasized that the charges pertain only to New York.

“Centers Health Care prides itself on its commitment to patient care. Centers denies the New York Attorney General’s allegations wholeheartedly and attempted to resolve this matter out of court,” Jacomowitz wrote. “We will fight these spurious claims with the facts on our side. Beyond that, Centers Health Care will not comment on ongoing litigation.”

The lawsuit followed an investigation by Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The MFCU alleged that nursing home co-owners Kenneth Rozenberg and Daryl Hagler turned the four homes into “money making machines” by using an elaborate network of related companies and collusive, fraudulent transactions, to divert the $83 million from its intended use of providing sufficient staffing and required resident care.

Investigations into other nursing homes and facilities throughout New York state are ongoing.

To stop further harm and suffering, James said she would seek to prohibit the four New York nursing homes from admitting new residents until staffing meets appropriate standards.

Nursing home staffing has become an industry-wide problem across the county. Under Rhode Island state law nursing homes can be fined for not meeting minimum staffing requirements. 

The Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act was signed into law by Gov. Daniel J. McKee in May 2021. RIDOH has not enforced the act due to a nationwide shortage of nurses and the homes’ inability to find qualified nurses and aides who will work for wages that are less than those at hospitals. RIDOH found that 55 nursing homes in the Ocean State would have faced a combined $11 million in fines for understaffing during the second quarter of 2022 if it had enforced the act.

(CORRECTS last name spellings of Attorney General Peter F. Neronha and Joseph Wendelken in 4th paragraph.)

Contact PBN staff writer Sam Wood at Wood@PBN.com

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