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Testimonials

In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

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VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

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President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

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U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human element...it’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

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Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

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Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

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U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

 

Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

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Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

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Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

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Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

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Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

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Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

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Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

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Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

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Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

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Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

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Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

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Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

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National Council of Aging

Health care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

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Former President Bill Clinton

Twenty-Five People Charged in Massive DC Medicaid Fraud Case

March 11, 2014 08:14 AM

In what the FBI is calling “the largest health care fraud takedown in the history of the District of Columbia,” late last month, federal authorities arrested and charged 25 people with Medicaid fraud. Twelve defendants were charged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (“District Court”), while another 13 defendants were charged with first-degree fraud in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”). The alleged schemes included the following:

  • Billing for services not rendered to Maryland and DC Medicaid programs, totaling $78 million in fraudulent claims;
  • Cooperation with beneficiaries to commit beneficiary fraud for services not rendered; and
  • Sale of fraudulent home health care aide certificates

District Court Cases

Some of the District Court cases include the following:

Florence Bikundi, an owner of three home care agencies, was charged with Medicaid fraud, health care fraud, and other charges. Specifically, from July 2007 through the present, she received $75 million in Medicaid payments from DC and $3 million in Medicaid payments from Maryland while barred from participation in any federal health care program. She had been barred in April 2000 after having her nursing license revoked in Virginia. 

When later obtaining Medicaid provider numbers for her businesses, she did not disclose that she had her nursing license revoked in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and South Carolina. She also used a different last name to obtain these provider numbers from the name mentioned in the exclusion. 

Arrey Kingsly Etchi-Banyi was one of five charged with Medicaid fraud, health care fraud, and other charges. Specifically, he and four others received $498,000 in fraudulent payments from DC Medicaid. An owner of a Maryland nurse staffing agency, Etchi-Banyi allegedly conspired with the other four defendants to obtain fraudulent personal care services payments between February 2012 and October 2013. The five enrolled at least 19 beneficiaries with kickbacks to falsely present themselves as eligible to doctors and to prepare false timesheets.

Felix Aburi Fon and another personal care aide (his wife), employees of a DC home care agency, were charged with Medicaid fraud, health care fraud, and other charges for allegedly receiving $124,000 in fraudulent Medicaid payments from DC. From April 2012 through September 2013, the two offered kickbacks to beneficiaries to submit false timesheets.

Adoshia L. Flythe, an employee of a DC home care agency, was charged for counterfeiting “Home Health Care Aide” certificates and “Health Certificate[s] for Staff,” requisites for being a personal care aide in DC.

For details on these cases, in addition to others including the Superior Court cases, see the FBI press release here.

Conclusion

As Medicaid home care spending increases, anti-fraud efforts have focused more resources in a variety of “risk areas.” Recent prosecutions have highlighted serious program integrity weaknesses in both consumer-directed and agency models of home care. These prosecutions include many cases of billing for services never rendered and include allegations of beneficiary complicity as well. Often family members are involved.

It appears that the concerns with billing for services never rendered are especially acute in consumer-directed care programs. While these types of home care delivery models provide an important level of control to the client, they also run a higher risk of fraud, particularly where the caregivers are from the client’s family. These risks may provide home care agencies with an opportunity to supply some program integrity oversight along with caregiver training and supervision. At the same time, agencies should guard against Medicaid programs promulgating new regulatory measures that affect agency-model and consumer directed care equally.

It can be anticipated that investigations and prosecutions will continue for some time to come as states share information and strategies. Home care companies doing business with Medicaid would be well served if they redouble their internal program integrity efforts. Home care companies should use service attendance and documentation systems that provide reliable ways to validate any self-submitted information. Further, agencies should engage in at least spot checks with recipients to ensure actual delivery of care and continued eligibility for services. In many circumstances, Medicaid will attempt to recover any fraudulent payments from the agency even if the agency is not implicated in the fraud. In addition, the fraud of an employee can create a risk that the employer is also charged with fraud.  Home care companies should anticipate future regulatory and legislative action to stem the growing instances of home care fraud, as is seemingly on the horizon in Illinois. Individual caregiver fraud has also led to a movement to require background checks for caregivers.

Increasing regulation and legislation is a typical reaction to health care fraud, as regulators believe that they can solve all problems through another layer of rules. To the extent that there is a need for reforms, it is important to craft sound legislation that protects patients while putting the fewest restrictions on honest caregivers.  Stakeholders should actively engage in the process of regulatory and legislative reform through the forums or state advocacy.  Home care companies are encouraged to keep abreast of program integrity initiatives in their states, and to contact the National Council on Medicaid Home Care with any questions or concerns.

 

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