Atlanta nursing home chain to pay $11.2M to resolve false claims allegations

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Atlanta-based SavaSeniorCare will pay $11.2 million to resolve allegations it violated the False Claims Act by pressuring its skilled nursing facilities to bill Medicare for rehabilitation therapy services that were unnecessary, the U.S. Department of Justice announced May 21. 

The settlement resolves four lawsuits that allege the nursing home chain, which owns and operates more than 160 facilities across the country, submitted false claims for rehabilitation therapy services as part of a "systematic effort" to increase its Medicare billings. Sava is accused of exerting pressure on its facilities to meet unrealistic financial goals, which led to medically unreasonable, unnecessary and unskilled services provided to Medicare patients, among other allegations. 

Between 2013 and 2018, the company also allegedly submitted false claims for "grossly and materially substandard and/or worthless skilled nursing services, which were caused in large part by Sava's failure to provide a sufficient number of skilled nursing staff to adequately care for its nursing home patients," the justice department said. The settlement also resolves those allegations. 

As part of a separate five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with HHS Office of Inspector General, an independent organization will annually review patient stays and associated paid claims by Medicare at Sava facilities. The agreement also requires an independent monitor to review the quality of resident care. 

"We have spent 10 years and several million dollars vigoruosly defending our position in these cases," Annaliese Impink, a spokesperson for SavaSeniorCare, said in a May 21 statement emailed to Becker's: 

"As stated in the settlement agreement, we believe that the allegations were unfounded. Nevertheless, the cost of continuing to litigate would have exceeded the settlement payment. We believe it is the right time to put these matters behind us as we begin to recover from the pandemic.

We view the Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) as a positive. Going forward, our Compliance Committee is looking forward to working with the quality monitor under the CIA. We believe that this process will assist us with further enhancing our clinical and quality systems and will provide additional educational support for our center teams. We also hope to take advantage of best practices the monitor can share from other providers they have worked with. As is always the case, we will continue to focus our efforts on supporting our staff who work tirelessly to improve the quality of care and quality of life for those individuals we are privileged to serve.”

 

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