Rehab Racket

A joint investigation by

The Center for Investigative Reporting & CNN

http://cironline.org/rehabracket


Christina Jewett, CIR, @JewettCIR

Will Evans, CIR, @willCIR

Scott Zamost, CNN, @scottzamostcnn

Drew Griffin, CNN, @DrewGriffinCNN

Title

Findings


In California’s drug and alcohol 

rehabilitation program for the poor:


rampant fraud & failed oversight

    • bribing clients with cigarettes
    • billing for "ghost clients"
    • falsely labeling foster kids as addicts
    • felons running taxpayer-funded clinics


Find the Paper


 


Who regulates? Who are the front-line investigators? Who keeps the best records?

County Audits

County Investigations




Public Records Act Requests



  •  dozens of requests to state and counties
  •  applications for state certification
  •  complaints to state from counselors
  •  internal emails regarding suspect clinics


*test redactions*

Backgrounding with Court Records

  • LexisNexis
  • Courtlink
  • Pacer
  • court websites

Excluded Providers

Database of those barred from participating 
in Medicaid and Medicare: 
exclusions.oig.hhs.gov    

Quantify


If there's no data, make your own
*include lots of fields

Track Themes

organizational tool helps for follow-up stories:

Develop a Methodology


What is the universe?
What is the question?
What distinguishes bad from not bad?


How many SoCal clinics were responsible for fraud?

Red Flags


  •  clients bribed with cigarettes
  • billing when counselors were not at work
  • clients without addiction problems
  • signatures  appeared to be forged
  •  pre-written counseling notes    

Be Conservative



- run it by your co-worker

- involve an editor

- pare down to bullet-proof cases


Find the Whistleblowers

  • Staff lists in audits (who disappeared?)
  • Employment lawsuits
  • Wage claims with state labor department
  • Docnpi.com for health providers
  • Social media -- who are their FB friends?

DOCNPI.com

State Wage Claims


Finding Whistleblowers cont.


  • Sign up for Linkedin for Journalists

              • Don’t rule out sources
Be persistent: call back, show up and call back again

Catch the Fraud in Action

The stakeout
 Two reporters sat on a clinic from open to close. 
No more than 30 people went in. 
The clinic billed for 179 clients that day.

Catch the Fraud in Action

Hidden Camera

A receptionist said there was no group therapy.
The clinic billed for 60 clients that day.

Hold Officials Accountable


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By willcir

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