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March 27, 2023

1/17/2013 9:38:00 AM
Franconia resident accused of fraudulently collecting $100,000 plus in personal care attendent salary

A Chisago County resident was prominently featured in stories by metro news outlets last year, describing her legal ordeal contesting end-of-life measures for her 85-year-old husband. In recent months, though, the story has expanded from a tale of human emotion to include alleged Medicaid fraud. Franconia Township resident Lana Barnes, is facing seven criminal charges of theft by false representation. She is accused of taking more than $100,000 from the system designed to compensate attendants who provide care for the seriously ill in their home. Barnes, (who turns 58 on Jan. 17) rather unceremoniously lost her guardianship rights in early 2011 concerning her frail husband Al.

The probate court reacted to Barnes having altered Al’s medical care directive papers, omitting two pages of the 1993 directive when she presented the papers to a hospital in December 2010. The statements omitted were contradicting her assertions that he’d stipulated aggressive, life sustaining care. The theft charges came March 2012 as a result of Chisago County Public Health and Human Services staff and state officials in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the MN Attorney General looking into paychecks for Al Barnes’ personal care attendant (PCA). According to the criminal complaint Lana Barnes intentionally mis-represented to Nurse Staffing Solutions that her son Fred had provided personal nursing services for Al. Spouses are not permitted under Medicaid to collect wages as a PCA.

Other family members may, however, qualify as a PCA. The problem was that the son Fred, an over-the-road truck driver, was not at home on Quinlan Avenue but was driving when his PCA timesheets claimed hours from Nurse Staffing Solutions. PCA providers like Nurse Staffing Solutions, administer the attendants’ participation in the program and distribute wages to approved PCAs. The complaint also alleges that Chisago County social workers were concerned that some of the PCA hours submitted overlapped with when Al was hospitalized. Medicaid does not cover costs for a PCA when the client is hospitalized. The complaint alleges Barnes’ timecards covering about $22,000 in pay, between July 2009 and May 2010, coincided with Al’s hospital stays.

The complaint declares that when the state investigator contacted Fred he said he had been accepted as his father’s PCA in 2005. By 2006 he was driving truck, and his mother managed all the paperwork relating to his father’s care. Fred denies completing, signing or submitting any PCA time cards. He reportedly told the fraud unit investigator he knew Lana Barnes was receiving his PCA paychecks and he should not have let this continue, the complaint states. “Overpayments” based on Fred’s trucking logs and company payroll records between Jan. 2007 to May 31, 2010 amounted to $100,973. Due to the complexities of this case and the amount of the alleged fraud, Chisago County Attorney Janet Reiter said prosecution is being handled by the state, in court proceedings in Center City. There was an Omnibus (evidentiary) Hearing held Jan. 8. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also notes on its website that as a result of federal convictions for fraud defendants get excluded from participating in health benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. More than 3,000 individuals were excluded in fiscal year 2010 alone, see www.justice.gov/usao/mn.

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