Mental health addiction counselor in Vermont charged with Medicaid fraud

A Vermont mental health addiction counselor Donald Skekel of Putney, has been charged with committing Medicaid fraud after he was allegedly reimbursed for counseling services he never provided. An affidavit from an investigator for the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, said Skekel billed Medicaid for more than 200 60-minute counseling sessions that never occurred between 2015 and 2016. Investigators found Skekel was reimbursed a total of $119,000 from Medicaid between April 2015 and July 2017.

Skekel was falsely reimbursed at least $17,100 for counseling 12 current or former residents of Phoenix House New England, a sober house for men in Brattleboro, according to the affidavit in the case. He worked full time at Phoenix House for about a year and operated a private counseling business on the side before he was moved to a part-time position at Phoenix House for a few months and then fired in April 2016, according to the affidavit. Phoenix House reported Skekel to the state after a client was denied services by his regular therapist due to a “duplication of services.” The affidavit said the patient’s regular therapist wasn’t paid for three sessions in February 2016 because Medicaid had already paid Skekel for the patient’s counseling sessions.