Friday, April 18, 2014
Samuel Green, 62, waits outside The Bridge, a homeless shelter in Dallas, for a ride to the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Monday, March 5, 2012. Rex C. Curry/Special to QMI AGENCY DALLAS - The Bridge, a sprawling homeless shelter on a sidestreet in downtown Dallas, is not your typical scene of the crime, much less the epicentre of a $375-million scandal being called the largest health-care fraud perpetrated by a single doctor in U.S. history. The four-building, red-brick complex is nestled up against Interstate 30 in one of Texas's largest cities. This is where a former Canadian Doctor, Jacques Roy, and his acolytes allegedly recruited thousands of destitute homeless people for home health-care services, by offering $50 or some groceries. Dr. Roy and staff at the home health-care agencies he is accused of conspiring with then billed the U.S. government for five years for services, which investigators say the homeless never received or did not need and which were not medically necessary, federal prosecutors have alleged. The Bridge is a 235-bed homeless shelter and 100-bed transition centre smack in the heart of downtown, blocks away from
Dallas City Hall. The poorest of the poor in the Lonestar state use its services; they line up at dawn, hungry, exhausted or high on drugs, to get in for a meal and a shower - and get out of the blazing Texas sun. People who want to stay there are physically searched by security officers at the front gate for alcohol, drugs and even weapons, before they are screened with a metal detector. Shelter users like Samuel Green, 62, are furious that Bridge residents might have been duped by Dr. Roy, who faces life in prison if convicted. "What he [allegedly] did makes it harder on everybody else, especially people are actually needing government home health care services,'' Green said outside The Bridge. "If people like him make the government look harder at Medicare, then it just makes it harder for everybody who needs help." Green said the government should examine each case involving Dr. Roy and alleged false certifications for home health-care services under Mediciare and Medicaid, U.S. public health-care programs for low income seniors and the underprivileged. The chief executive of The Bridge told QMI Agency that his staff tipped federal authorities in 2010 to what he described as "suspicious activities" involving Dr. Roy and others operating at The Bridge. They then assisted the FBI and Medicare fraud investigators from the state of Texas. "We are pleased to know that we were able, in some small ways, to be a part of the responses to these suspicious activities," said Bridge chief executive officer Jay Dunn, whose facility already offers on-site health care. "The Bridge serves amongst the most vulnerable of our community and we take our charge as stewards of their and the broader community's trust very seriously." Dunn declined further comment, citing Dr. Roy's upcoming criminal trial.