Shanta Barnes, the former director of Louisiana Health and Rehabilitation Options in Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty Thursday to health care fraud and aggravated identity theft charges. Barnes admitted to securing painkillers through 61 false prescriptions and billing the drugs to Medicaid using the beneficiary information of former patients, officials say. Barnes then unlawfully distributed the drugs, authorities said.
Physicians Winston Murray and Divini Luccioni and five other Louisiana residents were indicted Thursday over allegations of billing Medicare for unprovided or unnecessary home health care services, officials said. The indictments are part of a case involving several health care firms accused of receiving over $50 million in false Medicare payments. Physicians Barbara Smith and Roy Berkowitz and Slidell resident Mark Morad were also charged.
Louisiana's Lake Charles metro area added the highest percentage of construction jobs between July 2013 and July 2014, according to an analysis of labor data by the Associated General Contractors of America. However, a growing number of contractors are starting to feel the effects of the shortage of skilled laborers, particularly in the South and Midwest, based on a survey conducted by AGC and SmartBrief. The survey revealed that a fourth of survey respondents indicated labor shortages were causing them to turn down jobs.
Louisiana reversed plans to end the state's Medicaid hospice program and will continue to provide end-of-life care to beneficiaries, officials said. Grant money will pay for services through June, when changes to the program are expected to reduce the number of people eligible for services, focus on in-home care rather than hospital-based hospice care, and reduce reimbursements for hospice providers.