LDH moving on three fronts to shut down JABA - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

LDH moving on three fronts to shut down JABA

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Jeanerette Mayor Aprill Foulcard Jeanerette Mayor Aprill Foulcard

The letter sent to JABA Enterprises last week is just the tip of the iceberg in a state move to shut down the company's operations. 

Jeanerette Mayor Aprill Foulcard is listed as both an agent and an officer on the company's filings with the Secretary of State. She's the only person listed who has been an officer or agent since the agency first registered in 2004. It's a company that provides staffing for people who need personal care, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities. 

Today,  LDH Senior Adviser Andrew Tuozzolo told KATC that his department is moving as quickly as possible to shut down JABA on three fronts. The only reason JABA isn't closed now is because of the company's clients, he said. 

"What we're trying to do in the best possible way is both deal with what we feel is a very significant and severe circumstance, we want to make sure a provider that is a programatic risk to us - we don't want to have dealings with that provider. But at the same time, we're super sensitive to the clients and we're really focused on transitioning folks," Tuozzolo said. 

The three fronts are last week's action to exclude JABA from Medicaid, an upcoming termination of JABA's Medicaid provider agreement and an upcoming non-renewal of JABA's license, he said. The exclusion will block any billing from the company, but the department also will terminate JABA from the Medicaid program when their LDH provider agreement expires in the next few weeks, he said. Also, when JABA's license comes up for renewal in April, it will not be renewed, Tuozzolo said. 

Last week, the state Department of Health sent JABA a letter, indicating they would be excluded from the state's Medicaid program because of policy violations that resulted in overpayment of nearly $200,000. The letter also alleges numerous cases of the company failing to comply with the laws and rules of Medicaid and of presenting or conspiring to present "false, fraudulent, fictitious or misleading claims or billings."  

Last summer, several JABA employees were arrested following an investigation by the state Attorney General's Office. To read that story, click here.  Foulcard also has come under fire as mayor, because the city's finances are in complete disarray. To read our most recent story about that case, in which the state is in the process of appointing someone to take over control of the city's operations and finances, click here

This week, JABA attorney Richard Spears told KATC that the exclusion is suspended, because JABA is appealing.

Not necessarily, Tuozzolo said. 

"Even if they were to appeal the exclusion, we will be terminating their provider agreement, which I think they also can appeal, but then their license will not be renewed," Tuozzolo said. "And even if the exclusion was to be suspended, we will go and argue that because of the programatic risk to the department... we have the opportunity to say, we're so concerned about this that we need to do this right away anyway, even if they ask for a suspension to appeal it."

Tuozzolo said the department's actions toward JABA are "extraordinary" and not something that happens very often. The only reason JABA hasn't been shut down already is those people JABA is supposed to be serving, he said. 

"It will be very unlikely that they will be able to operate long-term, due to the nature of the severity of the actions," Tuozzolo said. "Maybe short-term. But not for a long period of time."

LDH is working closely with JABA's clients to make sure they are taken care of, Tuozzolo said. That's the number one focus, even behind getting JABA out of the Medicaid program. 

"The license thing is the final step. We could pull it immediately, but we need some time to be sure clients have the opportunity to transition," Tuozzolo said.

Tuozzolo said the exclusion - the letter sent to JABA last week - is "the most severe consequence you can have" in the Medicaid program.  

We reached out to Spears again today, but haven't heard back from him yet. 

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