State Medicaid office investigating care home featured in ABC15 investigation

The state Medicaid office has launched an investigation into an assisted living center after ABC15 requested information about how taxpayer dollars were being spent at the facility.

The ABC15 Investigators contacted the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to find out how much taxpayer money was paid to The Lodge at 14th Street, an assisted living center for more than 30 residents with physical disabilities, mental illness, or both.  

It’s a place where our undercover investigation found evidence of filthy living conditions, bed bugs and allegations of resident neglect.

AHCCCS officials said ABC15’s undercover investigation of The Lodge was forwarded to their Office of Inspector General. Officials declined to comment further saying they don’t discuss open investigations.  

In 2012 and 2013, AHCCCS said The Lodge was paid $1,253,770.48 for Medicaid covered services.

Officials said those payments cover medical and behavioral health services and do not include room and board.

The federal Social Security Administration said they could not provide the total amount they pay to the facility. However, insiders said the amount of social security funds and other taxpayer-funded benefits contribute hundreds of thousands of additional dollars to the facility.

“That’s good income,” said Mike Wright, a Valley attorney. “They ought to be able to provide.”

Wright has handled hundreds of cases involving assisted living and nursing homes. He said the conditions we uncovered were unacceptable.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. This is highly unusual. It’s heartbreaking,” he said.

The Lodge’s owner, Austin Coggins, has denied any neglect and said he couldn’t comment on the amount of money that comes into the facility. After we spoke to Coggins about what we discovered, he had The Lodge sprayed for bugs, painted and cleaned. He also bought new mattresses for residents.

The State Health Department and Adult Protective Services have confirmed they also opened investigations into The Lodge after ABC15’s report .

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com.

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