AHCCCS halts payments to 100 providers as officials allege multi-million-dollar scam targeting Native Americans 

Flanked by Attorney General Kris Mayes, Gov. Katie Hobbs said Tuesday the state has been the victim of massive fraud caused by operators of sober living homes signing up Native Americans for care — needed or not — and then not providing services. || Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

Nick Phillips 

Arizona Capitol Times 

The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, better known as AHCCCS, suspended payments to more than 100 care providers suspected of scamming the state out of hundreds of millions of dollars while victimizing thousands of Native Americans, officials said on Tuesday. 

State, federal and tribal officials said operators of fraudulent sober living homes raked in taxpayer dollars by recruiting Native Americans to enter the facilities and then billing for treatment that was never provided.  

Rather than providing legitimate healthcare, the fraudulent facilities in many cases fed tribal members’ addictions or substance problems in order to keep them under control and at the facilities, officials including Gov. Katie Hobbs, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes and Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said at a news conference. 

“For years, these providers have allegedly defrauded the state of millions of dollars, while creating a large-scale humanitarian crisis that disproportionately affects Arizona’s tribal communities,” Hobbs said. 

“Many of these predatorial behavioral health facilities have and continue to take advantage of populations that are most at risk, only to enrich themselves,” said Martin Harvier, president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. 

It’s a known scheme that law enforcement and tribal leaders have struggled to contain in recent years, even as exploitation continued out in the open. 

Operators or associates of the sham healthcare centers may pick up people who are unhoused, low-income, alone or intoxicated, and transport them to residential centers after promising to provide food, housing and access to care. Perpetrators target Native Americans both on reservations and in urban areas like Phoenix.


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May 2023