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Report: Clients, employee allege Medicaid exploitation in housing scheme

Worth your time today: a harrowing story of the exploitation of the poor in an alleged scheme to manipulate and defraud Medicaid recipients in Greensboro.

Clients and a former employee of United Youth Care Services, an agency offering substance abuse treatment tied to offers of housing, detailed a complex web of abuse in the story by Jordan Green of Triad City Beat:

Recruiters for the agency found women desperate for housing and with limited finances, many of them either pregnant or with young children, and offered them what seemed like an invaluable gift. Not only would they receive shelter, but the agency also provided mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and childcare while the parents received services.

But the housing provided to clients of United Youth Care Services through a network of rundown apartment complexes and seedy hotels across Greensboro turned out to be infested with mold, bedbugs, frequent sewage backups and inoperable heating systems. The hotels and apartment complexes were plagued by rampant drug use. Clients were often denied keys to their rooms, leaving them exposed to theft and assault, and at the mercy of unscrupulous site managers.

As bad as the housing conditions were, many of the clients wagered that homelessness would be worse. They discovered that their Medicaid enrollment was a cash spigot for United Youth Care Services, and that if they failed to attend the therapy sessions, which count as billable units for the agency, they would find themselves subject to punishment, including lockouts of up to 72 hours, and possible eviction. Utilities shutoffs and rent hikes were also a common complaint.

Be sure to read the accompanying editorial, “The Price of Poverty,” as well.

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