The Polk County Crime Examiner reported the conviction of nursing home owner/operator George Dalyn Houser of Atlanta on charges of conspiring with his wife to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid programs by billing them for “worthless services” in the operation of three deficient nursing homes. The nursing homes suffered from food shortages bordering on starvation, leaking roofs, virtually no nursing or housekeeping supplies, poor sanitary conditions, major staff shortages, and safety concerns, As hundreds of residents were neglected, Houser spent taxpayer money on real estate, vacations, and other luxuries. Evidence proved that Houser diverted at least $8 million of Medicare and Medicaid funds to his personal use. Staffing shortages, employee injuries, high tunrover rate, and poor employee benefits were a major problem as it is in most for profit facilities.
The conviction is the first time that a defendant has been convicted after a federal court trial for submitting claims for payment for worthless services. The court found by clear evidence that the evidence showed “a long-term pattern and practice of conditions at defendant’s nursing homes that were so poor, that, in essence, any services that the defendant actually provided were of no value to the residents.”
The Medicare and Medicaid programs require nursing homes to provide sufficient dietary, pharmaceutical, and environmental service to care for their residents’ needs. Leaky roofs, foul odors and mold were common. Flies, mosquitoes and other insects, as well as rodents easily entered the homes through ill-fitting screens and doors. Employees spent their own money to buy milk, bread, and other groceries so that residents would not starve. Employees also bought nursing supplies for the residents, cleaning supplies for the homes. Some employees also washed the residents’ laundry in laundromats or in their own homes.
“It almost defies the imagination to believe that someone would use millions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid money to buy real estate for hotels and a house while his elderly and defenseless nursing home residents went hungry and lived in filth and mold,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “We will continue to aggressively protect our most vulnerable citizens and hold accountable those who prey on the elderly and steal precious healthcare dollars.”
"According to an FBI press release, between July 2004 and September 2007, Houser billed Medicare and Medicaid approximately $39.4 million, and they paid him $32.9 million based on his certifications and promises that he was providing the residents of the nursing homes with a safe,clean environment with nutritional meals, medical care, and services that would promote or enhance the residents’ quality of life."