NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) — St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center (St. Joseph’s) has agreed to pay $3.2 million after allegations of violating the federal and New York False Claims Act, according to New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

St. Joseph’s operates a comprehensive psychiatric emergency program (CPEP) that treats those dealing with acute mental crises.

“Mental health staffing requirements are intended to protect the public and avoid the waste of public funds by ensuring that services are delivered by qualified personnel in a meaningful way,” Schneiderman said. “We will continue to work with our federal partners to fight to recover misappropriated money on behalf of New York’s taxpayers.” 

New York state regulations mandate at least two CPEP staff members need to be present for crisis intervention services to take place. One of these needs to be professional – credentialed as either an alcohol counselor, physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, registered professional nurse, rehabilitation counselor or social worker. 

St. Joseph’s allegedly failed to satisfy the basic CPEP staffing requirements, resulting in false claims submitted to Medicaid.

“Today’s settlements reflect my office’s commitment to protecting central New York’s most vulnerable citizens, including those in crisis,” said U.S. attorney Richard Hartunian said. “We will continue to use the False Claims Act to protect health care beneficiaries and the federal fisc by ensuring that taxpayers do not pay for services rendered by unlicensed or unqualified individuals.”

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