The owner of three Atlanta-area nursing homes has been convicted on charges of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of $32.9 million while providing “horrendous” care to residents at the facilities.
Sixty-three-year-old George Dayln Houser was found to have billed Medicare and Medicaid programs for $32.9 million in “worthless services” for the three deficient nursing homes run by he and his wife between July 2004 and September 2007. While the Medicare and Medicaid funding was supposed to pay for food, medical care, and other services for nursing home residents, those living in Houser’s facilities never received them. Between the three facilities, there was room for more than 400 residents to receive nursing home care.
In addition to not properly using government funding to care for residents, the facilities each also suffered from a number of other shortcomings that put residents at risk:
• Each facility lacked a sufficiently sized staff to take proper care of the residents
• Buildings were inadequately maintained. Two facilities had holes in their roofs that leaked rainwater and led to water damage. However, the holed were never patched.
• Insect and rodent infestations were regular problems that were likely caused by rotting garbage left at the facility when trash collection service bills were not paid.
• Vendors of food, pharmacy and clinical laboratory services, medical waste disposal, trash disposal, and nursing supplies were regularly not paid by Houser, leading food and supply shortages.
“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.”
In addition to improperly caring for the facilities’ residents, Houser was also convicted of eight counts of deducting $806,305 in federal payroll taxes from his employees’ paychecks and never paying it back to the IRS.
Rhonda Washington Houser, George’s wife, pleaded guilty to misprison of the felony of health care fraud in December 2011. They both are now awaiting sentencing.