On March 1, 2012, a grand jury in Colorado indicted the owners of several long-term care facilities in Colorado on multiple charges related to human trafficking, including forced labor and visa fraud. The case, United States v. Kalu, 12-cr-00106 (D. Co. 2012), involves two business men who ran a scheme to fraudulently secure H-1B visas for Foreign Nationals (FNs) by claiming that they would work in this country as nurse instructors or supervisors at a fictional university. Once the FNs arrived, the defendants would force them to work for the Foreign Healthcare Professional Group, a business that the defendants controlled, and which contracted out the FNs to long-term care facilities as staff nurses.
The two defendants, one from Georgia and the other a Highlands Ranch resident, face 132 counts of mail/wire fraud, visa fraud, forced labor, money laundering, and human trafficking. If convicted, they face between 10 and 20 years in prison, fines up to $500,000, and the forfeiture of their business. The Kalu case demonstrates the loopholes in our care provider system and the need for all health care employers of knowing the immigration details of FNs they seek to hire, even if the FNs are presented by professional staffing agencies.
The human trafficking aspect of the case is outrageous, but the situation with the longterm care facilities is very troubling as well. Surprisingly, there are no charges in the indictment against many of the long-term care facilities where these FNs were placed, though the investigation is continuing. But this scenario points out how crucial it is for consumers to do their own homework when choosing such a facility. Medicare provides four steps for making such a choice:
Step 1: Assess Your Needs
Step 2: Research Financing and Care Choices
Step 3: Find What Is Right For You
Step 4: Visit Your Available Options
Each step is more fully described at the website, medicare.gov.