Unlicensed behavioral health provider stops housing clients at hotel property once investigated by AZDHS

A Tempe hotel property once investigated by the Arizona Department of Health can no longer house about a hundred people, including children.

This comes after a company that ran the facility, NewFound Hope, stopped receiving payments from the state due to fraud allegations. Some are heading home to their respective tribal reservations, and some have been placed at legitimate facilities with the help of AHCCCS.

On Feb. 5, we reported that Newfound Hope surrendered two licenses for outpatient treatment and counseling, but they didn’t stop housing dozens of people, mainly Native Americans, under a specific AHCCCS health plan. Now, they are facing uncertainty.

"It’s a little bit of a struggle," says Benjamin Jeffrey with Vogue Recovery Center. "I talked to the City of Tempe this morning and requested Human Services Department to come out."

Shateva Hinton is among the dozens of people who had to move out of the hotel property, located on Scottsdale Road near Arizona State University. Their lives were packed up as service providers came to offer help for those with nowhere to go.

"When I got here, I was on meth for seven years. I didn’t care for children. I got sober here, and now I’ve been sober since October 5, 2021," says Hinton.

Hinton, a mother of two from the White Mountain Apache tribe, says she was brought here by NewFound Hope, an organization that claimed to treat and house Native American families impacted by addiction.

Continuing Coverage: Sober Living Crisis

In February 2023, AHCCCS suspended NewFound Hope over allegations of Medicaid billing fraud. Before the suspension, records say NewFound Hope was paid nearly $13 million for services provided to members.

In May 2023, AZDHS served NewFound Hope with a cease and desist for using the "decommissioned Ramada" as an unlicensed healthcare institution. Officials say some patients were in active detox while living at the hotel, which could lead to harm. In previous reports, former employees told us that some clients were intoxicated and not supervised.

HInton, however, says that’s not true.

"When people aren’t in that right state of mind where they do wanna change, they’re gonna do whatever they want," says Hinton.

We have tried to speak to NewFound Hope owner Denis Artiles in the past, but he declined and denied all allegations.

"[Artiles] has provided money for transportation. He’s provided money for us to be able to go to all these treatment facilities, and get the help that we need to remain sober," says Hinton.

One person, identified only as ‘Nick,’ says he did not have a good experience with the program.

"Nothing’s organized here," Nick says. Everybody’s doing half [expletive]."

Multiple clients have said they are now members of new health insurance plans after NewFound Hope’s suspension by AHCCCS.

"I’m on Blue Cross Blue Shield right now," Hinton says. "It was back in December."

NewFound Hope was one of 300 providers suspended by AHCCCS as part of a widespread crackdown. State officials say the Medicaid agency has been defrauded for nearly $2 billion, in a scheme targeting vulnerable people who are on the American Indian health plan.

"That’s what it’s all about. The insurance money, I think," said Nick.

Rosa Cano, who is a volunteer with NewFound Hope, says the organization did not illegally provide services at this property.

"I'm here to make a difference, and that’s always been my purpose from the very beginning," Cano says.

We have reached out to AZDHS for comment on the matter, and they replied with a statement that reads:

"The investigation of NewFound Hope is ongoing. We cannot comment on pending investigations,  but we will continue to hold them accountable if any additional violations are found.

The wellbeing of all Arizonans is of our utmost concern.  We encourage the public to utilize AZCareCheck.com to ensure they are receiving care at a licensed facility."