Crime & Courts

Woman convicted of Medicaid fraud ordered to repay $41,386

Joyce Ann Spencer
Joyce Ann Spencer Courtesy of Sedgwick County Jail

A Wichita woman convicted of committing Medicaid fraud while she worked as a care attendant has been ordered to serve two years of probation and repay the Kansas Medicaid Program $41,386.

Joyce Ann Spencer could serve up to a year and a half in prison if she violates the terms of her probation, Sedgwick County District Court Judge Eric Yost said in handing down the ruling Friday. Spencer in July pleaded no contest to one count of making a false claim to Medicaid for billing the program for work she didn’t do between May 2009 and October 2013.

In her billing, Spencer claimed she was working for three different Medicaid patients simultaneously, which is impossible, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt noted in a news release e-mailed after the sentencing hearing. Medicaid is a federal and state health program for low-income and disabled people.

In addition to her punishment in the criminal case, Spencer is barred from working for pay for any program funded by federal health care dollars, Schmidt said. His spokesman, Clint Blaes, said the length of Spencer’s ban will be determined by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, after an investigation.

Yost on Friday refused Spencer’s request for a shorter probation term “based on the severity of the crime.”

He also ordered the 59-year-old to find and hold a job unless she’s deemed disabled.

Defense attorney Sharon Barnett said in court that Spencer had been battling cancer for more than a year and had no income or other resources to pay the restitution in the foreseeable future.

Spencer’s case is part of a crackdown on Medicaid billing fraud undertaken by “Operation No Show,” a partnership between the Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the sixth case closed under the initiative, Schmidt said.

Additional investigations are ongoing, he said.

Judges have ordered more than $308,000 in restitution be repaid to the Kansas Medicaid program as a result of the crackdown.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.