UNITED STATES — The federal government and attorneys general across the country are warning people not to allow nursing homes or assisted living facilities to wrongfully take stimulus checks from patients.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said there have been reports of it happening nationwide.
The FTC says the facilities are telling Medicaid patients they have to hand over the money as part of the Medicaid program.
"Just because someone is on Medicaid it does not mean the facility that they live in has any right to that stimulus money,” said Grace Greisman, Associate Director in the Division of Marketing Practices for the FTC. “That's just simply not true. For the facilities to take advantage of them by insisting that they turn over their stimulus checks, it's just unconscionable and it's wrong.”
We checked with states across the country.
In Florida, Attorney General Ashley Moody said her office is investigating cases regarding the matter but would not go into detail yet about the locations.
“We’re hearing of incidents where some of these facilities are taking the money before it goes to these residents, seniors, of these ALFs and nursing homes and holding that without the consent of those individuals,” Moody said. "Taking those payments as if they're entitled to them without giving them to the seniors, without giving them that option, is unacceptable."
The office of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said residents in a nursing home were sent a letter warning them not to spend the stimulus money until they determined their “monthly client participation.”
Miller’s office said the facility later sent a revised letter saying the residents can keep the money after the state got involved because of a complaint.
"It's terrible to see facilities preying on people who are already at risk,” Greisman said.
The office of Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said it has not received any complaints about it at this time but is aware and on the lookout.
Hunter’s office said the crime would be considered financial exploitation which can lead to fines and up to ten years in prison.
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