DETROIT — A Michigan autism therapy provider has been accused of running a Medicaid fraud scheme and targeting poor and minority communities in Detroit.

Former employees of Centria Healthcare allege the business has engaged in billing fraud, violating patient privacy, forgery, falsifying reports and employing unqualified people in an effort to boost profits, The Detroit Free Press reported .

Centria Healthcare denies any wrongdoing. It filed a defamation lawsuit in December against Vanessa Pawlak, the company’s former chief compliance officer; Curtis Moore, a former senior sales executive; and another former employee.

“Whatever these allegations are, yes, they’re very outrageous, but they’re not true,” said Centria CEO Scott Barry. “And we’re trying to do a good job to help kids and help families and help our community.”

Pawlak and Moore have also filed lawsuits of their own. Pawlak alleges that she was fired for refusing to be complicit in wrongdoing. Moore, who was fired in May for what the company said was poor performance, is suing under the state’s Whistleblower’s Protection Act.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office said it’s investigating Centria.

None of the 40 regulatory bodies that audited the company about 70 times since June 2016 have found any material against the company, said Centria attorneys.

Centria was recently awarded an $8 million grant from the state contingent on creating 1,200 jobs in five years. The company provides patients with in-home care including nursing services and rehabilitation.

Centria was created in 2009. Last year, the company operated in nine states, had more than 5,000 employees and 3,500 clients.


Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com