GREENSBORO — A mental health agency at the center of an alleged Medicaid scheme is under investigation by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services — but for reasons that aren't yet clear.
According to Tim Vincent, the director of Greensboro-based Ready4Change, the investigation was based on "false allegations" — he wouldn't be more specific in a phone interview Friday — made in media reports over the last two months.
"They found us with no wrongdoing," Vincent contended.
Since June, Ready4Change has been accused by affordable housing advocates and former clients of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to earn profits from Medicaid. They allege that the company canvasses the community looking for homeless people and vets them to see if they're covered by Medicaid — and also have a substance-abuse problem.
Ready4Change provides housing in exchange for their homeless clients to attend treatment programs — and then sends Medicaid the bill.
Former clients charge that they're persuaded to take illegal drugs so that they can remain in the program and keep their housing.
On Friday, Vincent was adamant that the allegations are false. He blamed the media, particularly a series of stories published in the News & Record, for undermining the work Ready4Change is trying to do in the community.
“People don’t look for facts," he said. "They're always looking to condemn someone. Once something’s put out there, people run with that. That affects us from being able to serve people.”
He also maintained — like he has since the allegations became public two months ago — that Ready4Change operates strictly as a treatment facility.
"We don’t provide housing,” he said.
source with intimate knowledge of the DHHS investigation told the News & Record that Ready4Change is being scrutinized because it defines itself as an outpatient service that provides housing. In contrast to an inpatient treatment agency, state regulations don't allow outpatient services to provide housing for clients.
This week, DHHS officials couldn't confirm or deny an investigation and said more information would be provided later.
Many of Ready4Change's clients currently live at the Grandview Pointe Apartments at 3128 Utah Place in Greensboro.
Brett Byerly, executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition, said this week that at least three families have come to his organization saying they will soon be displaced from Grandview Pointe.
"They said they were part of a substance-abuse program and the program is being closed," said Byerly, whose group provides assistance for people who need affordable housing. "They were told they’re going to have to leave by Sept. 1 or the lights are going to be turned off."
Byerly declined to name the program treating the residents.
"We were also approached by another nonprofit asking if we had money to relocate other people from that apartment complex," he added.