Printed on: October 31, 2013

Mental care provider Seasons of Hope files for bankruptcy


POCATELLO -- A former mental health care service provider accused of fraud by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has filed for bankruptcy.

Seasons of Hope LLC and its owner, Heath Sommer, released a statement Tuesday announcing the bankruptcy filing.

Seasons of Hope had seven offices in southern and eastern Idaho with more than 100 employees. In March, Health and Welfare suspended its Medicaid provider status, saying it owed about $449,000 in Medicaid payments for fraudulent claims. The clinics closed.

The provider had operated an Idaho Falls office at 3240 S. Woodruff Ave. The company had served 79 clients within the Post Register's 10-county coverage area, including 37 in Idaho Falls.

After a June hearing, Senior District Judge Peter McDermott determined Seasons of Hope had not committed fraud and reinstated its Medicaid provider status. However, the judge ruled Seasons owed $94,000 to Health and Welfare and set $10,000 in civil penalties and $8,000 in fines. The agency's appeal is pending before Health and Welfare Director Richard Armstrong.

In August, former Seasons of Hope employees filed a lawsuit seeking wages and other benefits lost when the company closed.

Last month, Seasons of Hope filed notice of a $12 million tort claim against Health and Welfare, alleging the agency was trying to put it out of business. It also seeks $3 million in damages and $160,000 for payroll that went unpaid because it lost its Medicaid provider status.