Lana Barnes was convicted of Medicaid fraud Tuesday, two years after her high-profile court battle to pursue treatments for her dying husband over the objections of doctors at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.
In this latest case, the Minnesota attorney general accused Barnes, 58, of pocketing state payments for care that one of her sons was supposed to provide to her frail husband but never did. Records show the son driving a truck out of state when he was supposedly caring for his 85-year-old father at his home in Scandia, Minn.
Five of seven charges against Barnes were dropped per an agreement that left the ruling in the hands of Chisago County District Judge John McBride after getting written arguments from Barnes’ lawyer and the state.
Barnes argued that she had provided the care, even though her son was the contracted provider, and that it wasn’t fraud because the staffing agency knew about this arrangement when it collected state money and then paid her.
However, the judge in his ruling noted that Barnes also had collected payments for dates when her husband was in a hospital and couldn’t have received any home care. The two counts involved nearly $24,000 in state payments.
Sentencing is scheduled July 24, with the maximum penalty for each charge being 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.
The fraud charges were unrelated to the 2011 court battle over whether Barnes should retain decisionmaking authority over her husband’s care. Methodist sought to strip that authority because doctors believed Barnes’ demands for dialysis and other treatments were reckless. Al Barnes’ death in February 2011 brought that case to an end.
Barnes had been warned of a potential criminal violation during that case when she admitted she had altered her husband’s health care directive in a way that made it look like he would want aggressive care. But no charge related to that claim emerged.
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744