According to a report from the Associated Press, former football player Hershel Walker, who will likely be the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat representing Georgia, is being scrutinized over his ties to a for-profit group accused of preying on military veterans.
Walker, who is headed for a win this week that will put him on the November ballot opposing Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) after getting the endorsement of former president Donald Trump, has previously altered his story about his relationship with the group Patriot Support, with AP reporting he has taken "credit for founding, co-founding and sometimes operating" the group.
As the report notes, he has at different times told interviewers, “About fifteen years ago, I started a program called Patriot Support,” and then claimed, “People need to know I started a military program, a military program that treats (thousands) of soldiers a year.”
His comments have now come back to haunt him and could be a campaign issue for the aspiring Republican candidate already dogged by allegations of domestic violence and mental health issues.
As AP reports, "....corporate documents, court records and Senate disclosures reviewed by The Associated Press tell a more complicated story. Together they present a portrait of a celebrity spokesman who overstated his role in a for-profit program that is alleged to have preyed upon veterans and service members while defrauding the government."
According to the report, Walker has long publicized his ties to the group that received plaudits in the military press, but as AP reports, there have also been questions about the group and where donations are going.
"Patriot Support is not a charity. It’s a for-profit program specifically marketed to veterans that is offered by Universal Health Services, one of the largest hospital chains in the U.S. Walker wasn’t the program’s founder, either. It was created 11 years before Universal Health Services says it hired Walker as a spokesman, which paid him a salary of $331,000 last year," the report states before adding, "Court documents, meanwhile, offer a far more troubling picture of its care for veterans and service members. A sprawling civil case brought against Universal Health Services by the Department of Justice and nearly two dozen states alleges that Patriot Support was part of a broader effort by the company to defraud the government."
According to AP, federal investigators have accused Universal Health Services of funneling troubled vets into inpatient mental health care facilities to "drive up revenue"
The report notes that inpatient care is a bigger money maker because "government plans do not limit the duration of hospital stays for psychiatric care so long as specific criteria are met, making such patients more profitable, the government alleged."
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