Licensed Counselor Pays $45K to Settle False Claims Allegations

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Valerie Williams, LPC and her business, Circle of Life Treatment, LLC, have entered into a civil settlement agreement with the federal and state governments and will pay more than $45,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the federal and state False Claims Acts.

Williams is a state Licensed Professional Counselor and the owner of Circle of Life Transition Center, a private behavioral health practice in Hartford. Williams is enrolled as a Licensed Behavioral Health Clinician in Independent Practice in the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program (“CMAP”), which includes the state’s Medicaid program.  It is alleged that Williams billed Medicaid for psychotherapy services as if she had provided those services when, in fact, unlicensed individuals provided the services.

The Connecticut Department of Social Services Provider Manual for Licensed Behavioral Health Clinicians in Independent Practice explicitly states, “The department shall not pay for…services provided by anyone other than the provider.”

To resolve the allegations under the federal and state False Claims Acts, Williams and the Circle of Life Transition Center will pay $45,488.57 in order to reimburse the Medicaid program for conduct occurring from January 1, 2014 to April 5, 2017.  Williams has also agreed to a voluntary seven-year suspension from the Connecticut Medicaid Program as part of the settlement.

Under the False Claims Act, the government can recover up to three times its actual damages, plus penalties of $11,181 to $22,363 for each false claim.

This case stems from a larger investigation into fraudulent activity in the area of behavioral health services, which has been jointly conducted by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office and the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General, with support from the Connecticut Department of Social Services.

This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Thidemann, and Assistant Attorney General Karla Turekian of the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General.

People who suspect health care fraud are encouraged to report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS or the Health Care Fraud Task Force at (203) 777-6311.

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