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Fraud in Home Services Program leads to training initiative

Published: Friday, June 6, 2014 9:06 p.m. CST

Federal indictments uncovering abuse of a Medicaid program designed for people with disabilities helped fuel this month’s rollout of a new statewide program to combat such fraud, said Ann Ford, executive director for Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living.

A third wave of indictments was announced Thursday against more than a dozen personal assistants statewide working for people with disabilities who allegedly faked time cards, Ford said. The first indictments came last summer.

More are likely to follow, she said.

To combat against fraud, the state association is partnering with Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living and the state’s Department of Human Services to provide training for people with disabilities who are newly enrolled in the state’s Home Services Program.

“Our feeling was that the people we represent should be well-trained and understand fraud, and know what fraud looks like,” Ford said.

Those enrolled in the HSP can take advantage of the training. The HSP is for those who qualify to hire personal assistants through the state for help around the house with certain services, such as cleaning, shopping, personal care and monitoring to ensure health and safety.

The announcement of new training, which will be offered at the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living, coincides with Thursday’s federal charges made in U.S. District Court against more than a dozen individuals in Illinois.

They allegedly submitted false time sheets for work not performed as personal assistants through the HSP. The people had been working another job or living out the area, Ford said. In some instances, the person with the disability had been hospitalized or had not been using the personal assistant’s services, she said.

The training is designed to help people with disabilities safeguard against fraud and manage their relationships with their personal assistants, who are hired through the state.

The training will cover recruiting methods, interviewing and hiring how-tos, and extensive information on how to recognize and avoid fraud, abuse and neglect, Ford said.

KNOW MOREFor information about the Home Services Program training, call Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living, 2415 W. Jefferson St., at 815-729-0162 or 815-729-2085.

To enroll in the state’s Home Services Program, call the Illinois Department of Human Services’ rehabilitation services hot line at 1-800-843-6154. Enrollees also can use IDHS’ online rehabilitation web referral service by visiting http://www.dhs.state.il.us.

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