Feds Say Nurses Took Millions from Medi-Cal

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Two nurses made millions of dollars from Medi-Cal by billing for care provided by unlicensed nurses through health-care businesses in Los Angeles and Santa Fe Springs, federal prosecutors say.

     Priscilla Villabroza, owner and operator of Medcare Plus Home Health Providers, Excel Plus Home Health Services, and Unicare Health Professional, billed Medi-Cal for more than $17 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’ Office. It also sued Susan Bendigo aka Susan Lim, general supervisor and director of nursing at Excel Plus.
     Prosecutors say the defendants took more than $5 million for services provided by unlicensed nurses.
     Prosecutors say the scheme lasted from July 2003 through August 2007, and that Villabroza, Bendigo and others knew they were sending unlicensed “nurses to the homes of elderly and disabled adults and children.”
     Prosecutors say at least 40 unregistered caretakers were trained how to take notes and present themselves so as not to reveal the truth about their unlicensed status.
     But in billing Medi-Cal, the nurse’s notes were signed only by licensed nurses, prosecutors say. Bendigo fled the country during the investigation and is a fugitive.
     The United States will face a shortage of more than 250,000 nurses by 2025, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Hospitals and others heavily recruit for nurses in the Philippines, Villabroza’s homeland. An ad for Villabroza’s services was still posted on the Internet this morning.

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