Waterford Psychologist Pays $126,760 to Settle Allegations under the False Claims Act
United States Attorney John H. Durham and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen today announced that ARLENE WERNER, PhD., has entered into a civil settlement agreement with the federal and state governments and has paid more than $126,000 to resolve allegations that she violated the federal and state False Claims Acts.
WERNER is licensed as a Psychologist in the State of Connecticut and the owner of a private psychology practice in Waterford. She is enrolled as a provider in the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program (“CMAP”), which includes the state’s Medicaid program.
It is alleged that WERNER billed Medicaid for psychotherapy services that were not provided and that she billed Medicaid for family psychotherapy sessions for multiple family members when she should have billed one family member for individual psychotherapy services.
To resolve the allegations under the federal and state False Claims Acts, WARNER has paid $126,760.09 in order to reimburse the Medicaid program, which covers conduct occurring from January 2011 to July 18, 2016.
“It is imperative that providers accurately bill Medicaid and other insurance programs,” said U.S. Attorney Durham. “Working with our federal and state partners, we will continue to protect the integrity of the Medicaid program to ensure its recipients receive the healthcare services they need.”
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. Through the Medicaid program, the State of Connecticut provides coverage for mental health and counseling services to citizens who cannot otherwise afford health insurance. “Behavioral health” includes a wide variety of health care providers who provide care on an outpatient basis, including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, and licensed alcohol and drug counselors.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Thidemann, and Assistant Attorney General Antonia Conti 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.