Baton Rouge, LA –State officials in Texas and Louisiana have launched multiple probesinto the Cenikor Foundation following an investigation by Reveal that found the prominent drug rehabilitation services provider has turned patients into an unpaid labor force for private companies.
"It's like the closest thing to slavery," said Logan Tullier, a former Cenikor participant who worked 10 hours per day at oil refineries, laying steel rebar in 115-degree heat. "We were making them all the money."
Yesterday, Governor John Bel Edwards provided cover for Cenikor, saying he was confident the Department of Health would investigate any complaints.
Unfortunately for Governor Edwards, the Louisiana Department of Health had already cleared Cenikor. Records released Monday show department investigators found that Cenikor failed to conduct background checks on certain staff and that the kitchen was physically unsafe for residents. However, after spending two days at Cenikor, the department closed its investigation and gave Cenikor permission to continue providing treatment services.
Why are John Bel Edwards and his Louisiana Department of Health covering for this company instead of condemning it?
Why are John Bel Edwards and his Louisiana Department of Health still sending Cenikor our tax dollars via Medicaid if they might be abusing our citizens?
Just a few months ago, Cenikor named Gov. John Bel Edwards “Cenikor’s elected official of the year.”
"Organizations like the Cenikor Foundation provide life-saving treatment services and rehabilitation programs to individuals across the state who are working to free themselves from substance abuse and addiction. Our administration has made incredible strides to combat drug abuse and promote treatment options, and I am humbled to accept this Cenikor honor on their behalf,” Governor Edwards posted on Facebook after accepting the award.
With this conflict of interest, Governor Edwards has focused on distancing himself from the scandal while covering for Cenikor. Thankfully for Louisiana, Attorney General Jeff Landry has filled the void left by our cowering Governor and is taking action to make sure Cenikor is held accountable.
Landry is investigating Cenikor for possible Medicaid fraud. The program receives Medicaid funding and has received millions of dollars in state contracts for behavioral health services. A spokesman declined to comment on the investigation but said, "If there's evidence of a crime that involves Medicaid, that's something our office takes a strong interest in.”
In addition to government investigations, former patients are suing the rehab program for back wages in four separate lawsuits, and two of Cenikor's biggest work contracts have stopped using workers from the program.
Read the full story at: Reveal News