Even in death, those gaming the Medicare and Medicaid system aren’t safe from justice.
The state of New York has recovered millions of dollars from the estate of a deceased Bronx nursing home owner who was indicted on Medicaid fraud charges before her passing, attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced on Wednesday.
The late Helen Sieger, who owned the Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation and Care Center, allegedly payed thousands of dollars in kickbacks to a hospital social worker to steer patients into her facility. The agreement reached with her estate returns more than $2.5 million to the New York State Medicaid program.
“Our state’s Medicaid system is a critical resource for all New Yorkers, and in particular for our most vulnerable elderly citizens,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “My office is determined to protect taxpayer money from criminal schemes, and there are few programs as sacred as the Medicaid system that provides for our senior citizens. Those who steal from the elderly deserve to be prosecuted and the stolen funds fully restored.”
With the $2,502,963.74 being returned to the Medicaid program, the criminal kickback and grand larceny case against Sieger, filed in 2009, is now closed. Sieger reportedly jumped bail and left New York after her indictment, but was later located and returned by investigators from the Attorney General’s office in August 2010. She died in April 2011.
The illegal kickback scheme featured Sieger paying former social worker Frank Rivera to refer patients from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital to Kingsbridge, according to the 2009 Bronx County grand jury indictment.
Sieger paid Rivera $300 for each referral admitted to Kingsbridge and a bonus of $1,000 for every 10 patients, according to the AG’s statement. In total, Rivera received nearly $20,000 from Sieger, while Sieger’s nursing home received $1.25 million in payments from Medicaid.
Rivera has already pled guilty to felony and misdemeanor violations of the anti-kickback provisions of New York’s Social Services Law, and his sentence is pending.
The total settlement figure includes damages that will be paid to the state of about $1.3 million in addition to the $1.25 million in illegally-gotten Medicaid reimbursements.
Written by Alyssa Gerace