Koster settles with in-home care company

By Bryan Cohen | Jun 29, 2011


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced a settlement on Wednesday over alleged Medicaid fraud with a Hayti, Mo.-based company that provides in-home personal care services.

Smith & Associates Home Care allegedly failed to ensure personal care services were properly delivered to its Medicaid clients. Crystal Abernathy, a Smith & Associate's employee, allegedly submitted false claims to Medicaid personal care services that she did not provide to a Medicaid recipient, her ex-mother-in-law. Abernathy pleaded guilty to those charges in March.

Koster alleged that Smith & Abernathy had sufficient evidence, starting in August 2007, that Abernathy was not providing the hours claimed on the timesheet and that because Abernathy allegedly provided services to her ex-mother-in-law, the company should have scrutinized the timesheets more diligently before billing Medicaid.

"Medicaid pays companies like Smith & Associates to supervise and ensure Medicaid personal care services are delivered appropriately. In this case, the company failed to carry out its duties," Koster said.

"There was sufficient evidence in this case that Smith & Associates should have paid closer attention to the hours Abernathy claimed she worked. I am committed to holding the companies responsible for doing what Medicaid pays them to do - make sure the services are provided properly."

The agreement requires Smith & Associates to pay $69,067.03 in damages and restitution and $5,000.00 for investigation costs, for a total of $74,067.36. The agreement, which is a compromise of disputed claims, does not contain an admission of wrongdoing by Smith & Associates.

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