State: Broward vice mayor's health care company violated Medicaid laws

State audit found Barbara Sharief's South Florida Pediatric Homecare overbilled Medicaid

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Barbara Sharief is expected to be the next mayor of Broward County, but the state found that her health care company violated Medicaid laws after investigators determined it billed for services for the poor that weren't authorized.

Sharief, the vice mayor of Broward County, owns South Florida Pediatric Homecare, which often provides care to the neediest. But a new state audit found that her company overbilled Medicaid $220,000.

The state has asked for the $220,000 back in addition to a $44,000 fine.

It's the second time the state found Sharief violated Medicaid laws and owed taxpayers their money back. The state has asked her to pay back more than $800,000 between the two audits and fines.

When asked about the first audit in September, Sharief offered no explanation about what happened.

Sharief, who lists a net worth of $4 million, agreed to settle the first audit and reimburse taxpayers about $540,000, including nearly $50,000 in fines.

In the first audit, the state claimed her company: overcharged for services provided to multiple patients treated at the same location; overcharged for services that lacked proper documentation; charged the state higher registered nurse rates when a licensed practical nurse actually performed the services; and, billed taxpayers for services without a doctor's authorization.

"If you want me to sit down and talk at a later date about that, I sure can," Sharief told Local 10's Bob Norman last month, but then never agreed to discuss the first audit.

She also rebuffed attempts to discuss the second audit this week.

In the second audit, the state initially found that Sharief's company had been overpaid by Medicaid $2.2 million, but later reduced the amount of $220,00 after reviewing all documents. The second audit is still in litigation, according to a state spokesman.

Sharief and her company haven't been charged criminally in connection with either audit. She has admitted no wrongdoing.