A Cheyenne woman recently was sentenced to prison for defrauding Wyoming Medicaid, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Mark A. Klaassen.

Joanna Michelle Phillips, 37, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson last week to serve one-and-a-half years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Johnson ordered Phillips to pay $58,660.58 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and the Wyoming Department of Health's division of healthcare financing.

He also ordered her to pay $10,370.56 in restitution to the Wyoming Department of Family Services, Fraud and Recovery Unit, which investigated the case.

According to the March 15 indictment, Phillips had an adopted sibling who was approved for services under Wyoming Medicaid's long-term care waiver program.

Phillips falsely claimed to be the adopted sibling's legal guardian and therefore qualified to serve as the representative for the purposes of Medicaid's self-directed option.

Phillips also submitted claims for services allegedly provided by another person for the sibling when she knew that person had not performed those services, and used that provider's name and Social Security number without authorization to receive payments from Wyoming Medicaid.

The fraud happened from May 2013 through 2016, according to the indictment.

On July 18, she pleaded guilty to four counts of health care fraud, and the prosecution agreed to dismiss two counts of aggravated identity theft.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Travis J. Kirchhefer of the Wyoming Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Heimann prosecuted the case.

Suspected fraud against Medicaid or Medicare can be reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) and the agency’s website.

Wyoming residents also can report fraud by calling the Wyoming Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 1-800-378-0345, or visit their website.

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