GREENSBORO, N.C. — We're learning more about an alleged Medicaid scheme that came to light less than two weeks ago after a power outage at the Georgetown Manor Apartments on Overland Heights.
The Greensboro Housing Coalition says the possible scheme works like this: people on Medicaid attended substance abuse classes, in exchange for a roof over their heads.
One woman says she went to these classes, but she had to start doing drugs to get help.
Julie Everhart and her husband David Fields said they were living at the Travel Inn in Greensboro when they heard of a program happening there a few months back.
She said it offered free or reduced housing in exchange for help: clients needed to attend a certain number of classes per week at a local agency focused on helping with substance abuse and mental illness. The agency would then bill Medicaid.
"So I looked into it, because of me having mental illnesses," said Everhart. "I tried to get into it, did an assessment, and waited two weeks. Nothing happened."
Everhart says she spoke with someone higher up in the program, run by United Youth Care Services, and asked why she didn't hear back.
"He said that because I told them I didn't have a substance abuse issue, they would not qualify me for housing," said Everhart.
She says she was told to lie and say she did drugs and abused alcohol.
"Basically [I had to] let them know or believe that I had to chronic substance abuse issues whether it was drinking, or drugs, and I had to have at least two chronic ones," she said.
Then, Everhart says, it escalated.
She says someone with United Care Youth Services told her she needed to fail a drug test.
"If you come back with three clean consecutive tests, you were booted from the program," said Everhart.
The mother of four says she always had a feeling it was a sketchy program, but didn't want to jeopardize her family's housing situation.
She and her husband left the Travel Inn on Friday with nowhere else to go.
Now, she wants to warn others in a vulnerable position - to be aware.
"They don't want us or any other of the clients that do have drug issues - they don't want them to get clean because as soon as they get clean, they can exit the program, and they stop getting benefits as far as being able to get the money from the Medicaid bill," said Everhart.
United Youth Care Services sent WFMY News 2 a statement regarding the allegations on Tuesday. It reads in part:
"United Youth Care Services categorically denies the many allegations being made against it regarding Medicaid Fraud and substandard care for any of its clients. United Youth Care Services will further address these allegations in the appropriate, judicial venues afforded to a North Carolina business in good standing that services the at-risk population of Guilford County."
The state's Department of Health and Human Services is investigating the situation at the Georgetown Manor Apartments - also connected to this possible scheme.
The city condemned 12 units at Georgetown Manor last week. Inspectors say there were more than 100 code violations on the property.
City planners also say the property was cited last week for a zoning violation, because the property was being run as transient or transitional housing, but is currently zoned for multi-family residential. Only commercially-zoned properties can run this type of housing, according to the city.
Inspectors will hold a public hearing about these apartments on July 16.
We'll continue to follow this developing story.