Mental health service providers accused of defrauding Vermont Medicaid

Vermont Business Magazine The Attorney General’s Office announced that it has filed civil enforcement actions against two Vermont Medicaid providers for fraud. The lawsuits, currently pending in Vermont Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, Civil Division, were investigated and brought by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit (MFRAU) and allege separate violations of the Vermont False Claims Act.

In the first case, psychotherapist Robert Martin DuWors, PhD, of Cotuit, Massachusetts, and his business associate, Peter Lang, of New York, New York, are accused of conspiring to “upcode,” or unlawfully increase Vermont Medicaid reimbursement by billing with inaccurate information. 

Dr. DuWors is alleged to have allowed Mr. Lang, who is not licensed to practice medicine or psychotherapy, to provide “talk therapy” to Vermont Medicaid patients. Dr. DuWors then billed Mr. Lang’s time to Vermont Medicaid at a licensed clinical psychotherapist’s full rate, resulting in significant overpayments to Dr. DuWors’ practice.

Additionally, MFRAU’s investigation found evidence that Dr. DuWors routinely billed Vermont Medicaid for “impossible time,” whereby Dr. DuWors claimed to have personally provided more than 24 hours of Medicaid service on a single date. The defendants are further alleged to have obscured their actions by not maintaining or providing Medicaid treatment records necessary to verify that appropriate services had been rendered.

In a separate case, mental health counselor Lauren Ann LaSante of Rutland, Vermont, is accused of Medicaid Fraud after Ms. LaSante, who was the subject of multiple public complaints regarding quality of care, refused to provide Vermont Medicaid treatment records to State authorities, nor to her own patients, as required by law and professional ethics.

Vermont Medicaid service providers, in addition to a basic duty to bill honestly, are required to reliably document the services for which they claim reimbursement, and to promptly make those records available to State investigators. Failure to do so exposes providers to potential liability under state and federal laws. Violation of the False Claims Act can result in a judgment of three times the amount of public funds defrauded, plus penalties for every false claim made to the State.

If you suspect someone of abusing the Vermont Medicaid program, please contact Vermont Adult Protective Services by calling 800-564-1612 and MFRAU at https://ago.vermont.gov/medicaid-fraud-report-form.

MFRAU receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $1,229,616 for Federal fiscal year 2024. The remaining 25 percent, totaling $409,870 for FFY 2024, is funded by the State of Vermont.

Source: 6.3.2024. MONTPELIER, Vt. – Attorney General

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