Ohio Department of Medicaid warns Austintown rehab about false claims


AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Ohio Department of Medicaid sent a warning to the California Palms and its owner, Sebastian Rucci.

ODM says the facility’s website listed them as an Ohio Medicaid provider but at last check, the Palms was not in ODM’s system.

READ: ODM letter to California Palms

According to ODM, California Palms also called itself a “luxury Medicaid rehab,” which is another false claim.

The department asked the facility to cease and desist those statements from its website.

California Palms President Sebastian Rucci said the portion of the website with that claim was a blog post.

“There was a person that does posts for me, that’s how you draw traffic. And he did say that and we took it all down.”

Rucci said the blog posts were written by a Veterans Service Officer at the Palms. WYTV got in touch with that person, and he confirmed that he did write the blog posts but was not aware that he couldn’t claim the facility offered Medicaid.

“I was unaware of the language they used,” Rucci said. “I took it off as soon as I found out. It took us minutes.”

ODM says California Palms is not a Medicaid provider, which is true. However, Rucci said they offer two health care options that some Medicaid recipients may be able to use.

“We are approved to give care through CareSource and Molina in what’s called out-of-network.”

Someone who wanted to use the recovery center services would receive a bill themselves. They would then need to send the bill to Medicaid to see if they will be reimbursed.

ODM sent two different letters to Rucci — one to clear up a typo. Rucci said he never received either of them.

“I was unaware of both.”

Rucci said he didn’t know about the letter until Friday, but has since made the changes the state asked for.