WASHINGTON – Medicaid fraud is nothing new, but sometimes it’s particularly disgusting.
This is an appalling story about a Medicaid-supported caretaker and two parents who made their three children, including a severely disabled teen, live in filth in their Bristol, Virginia, home.
The conditions were so bad that a putty knife was needed to remove the children’s feces from their bedroom, where they were locked in at night.
If there’s any good news in this story, it is that the parents, Bryan and Melissa Harr, ages 41 and 49, and the caretaker, Deborah Branch, 65, were sentenced to prison earlier this month on federal health-care conspiracy charges. The Harrs were already in state prison for child abuse and had lost custody of their children.
But not before they schemed with Branch to steal government money meant to provide care for their teenage son, identified as E.H., who has intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy. From January 2010, when the children were 4, 5 and 12, until September 2015, Branch kicked back money to the parents paid to her for taking care of E.H. Families can select caretakers who are paid through Medicaid for services to eligible recipients.
Branch, however, didn’t work for her pay. In fact, investigators have evidence she was vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during a period her time sheets indicated she was with E.H. The Harrs knew she submitted bogus time sheets that led to Branch getting almost $208,000 over the five-year period. Out of that, she slipped the parents $200 every two weeks while E.H. was neglected.
“It is shocking to imagine parents who would for many years…
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