Phoenix/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on February 25, 2024
Tempe's Unlicensed NewFound Hope Facility Halts Operations Amid Medicaid Fraud AllegationsSource: Google Street View

The saga surrounding the unlicensed NewFound Hope facility in Tempe, Arizona, has come to a head as the troubled healthcare provider has ceased operating a hotel property used to house vulnerable individuals undergoing addiction treatment. This development follows an investigation by state health officials into the property on North Scottsdale Road near Loop 202, which resulted in the suspension of nearly $13 million in state payments amid allegations of Medicaid billing fraud.

According to a report by FOX 10 Phoenix, NewFound Hope's facility—which was not licensed to operate as a recovery institution—was thrust into the limelight when the Arizona Department of Health Services served a cease and desist order in May 2023. Despite the order and subsequent suspension, owner Denis Artiles claimed his operation remained active, challenging the state's stance. Artiles, who denied an interview request, had previously stated in an interview, "Yes, we are," when asked if NewFound Hope continued to operate amid the cease and desist order.

The situation has displaced around a hundred people, including children, many being members of Native American tribes. Shateva Hinton, a mother of two from the White Mountain Apache tribe, recounted her journey to sobriety facilitated by NewFound Hope, saying, "I got sober here, and now I’ve been sober since October 5, 2021." Hinton's sentiments were echoed in a statement obtained by FOX 10 Phoenix where Rosa Cano, a volunteer with the organization, said, "I'm here to make a difference, and that’s always been my purpose from the very beginning."

However, not all accounts were positive. An individual identified as ‘Nick’ described his experience with NewFound Hope as disorganized, stating, "Nothing’s organized here. Everybody’s doing half [expletive]." The facility's issues extended beyond disorganization; DHS found multiple deficiencies, and Katrina Trinchera, Deputy Bureau Chief of Medical Facilities Licensing at DHS, reported patients being in active detox without proper medical oversight, a dangerous scenario given the substances involved.

Following extensive legal wrangling and after an appeal hearing where the suspension was upheld, NewFound Hope agreed to a settlement in which they surrendered licensing for two locations and are now prohibited from applying for any healthcare institution or sober living home license for two years. NewFound Hope and AHCCCS are currently embroiled in an appeal process in a lower court. Despite the claims of no fraud intention, state officials are resolute, as the Medicaid agency has been purportedly defrauded for nearly $2 billion, a scheme targeting vulnerable individuals on the American Indian health plan, according to a statement provided by AHCCCS.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is intent on ensuring similar circumstances are avoided in the future, with Trinchera remarking, "We can’t allow this to happen in our community." She emphasized the need for more stringent regulations and qualifications for obtaining licenses to better protect the health and well-being of Arizonans. As the investigation into NewFound Hope continues, the affected individuals are left to seek legitimate care and rebuild their lives in the wake of this controversy.