$1.25M Settlement Reached in Nursing Home Whistleblower Lawsuit

The owners and operators of a nursing home and related nonprofit foundation agreed to pay $1.25 million to end a federal investigation into allegations they provided substandard care to residents and submitted false Medicare claims.

The Hyperion Foundation and AltaCare Corp. were hit with a nursing home whistleblower lawsuit alleging they ran a subpar facility in Mississippi called Oxford Health, Academy Health Center Inc. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the nursing home facility filed a whistleblower complaint about the level of care in 2010. The government then intervened in the nursing home whistleblower lawsuit in 2012.

“Residents of nursing homes are some of our most vulnerable citizens,” stated acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler regarding the matter. “Nursing home operators who bill Medicare and Medicaid for providing their residents with grossly deficient services will be held accountable.”

The nursing home whistleblower lawsuit alleged that the Georgia-based Hyperion Foundation took over the Academy Health Center in 2005; however, the Foundation fell behind on rent payments and allegedly provided such poor care to residents that they suffered health complications.

According to the lawsuit, nursing home residents were underfed and were not provided medication, leading to medical complications like dehydration, pressure ulcers, and falls. Hyperion failed to recruit sufficient nursing home staff to care for the residents, said the whistleblower lawsuit. Further exacerbating the problem, the foundation allegedly skimmed federal funding for the facility leading to deficiencies in heating and cooling, pest control, and cleaning.

The nursing home facility attempted to evict Hyperion in 2008, but the foundation escaped through bankruptcy proceedings. In 2010, the plaintiffs were able to file the nursing home whistleblower lawsuit.

The Mississippi-based nursing home facility, Oxford Health, Academy Health Center Inc., will recover an amount yet to be determined in the agreement to settle the nursing home whistleblower lawsuit.

Nursing home residents were removed from the facility in 2012.

Healthcare Whistleblower Lawsuits

If you work in a healthcare setting and suspect Medicare or Medicaid fraud or other illegal activity, you may need to consider that a whistleblower lawsuit could stop the activity. Whistleblower lawsuits are generally initiated under the False Claims Act. Because stopping fraudulent and/or illegal activity is important, whistleblowers are protected against retaliation under the False Claims Act.

Although the government investigates and tracks companies that make claims for federal funding, like healthcare companies under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, these investigations take a huge amount of time and resources. Often, employees who are courageous enough to take their employers to task for fraud or illegal activities are necessary to initiate legal action.

Whistleblowers are also often entitled to a proportion of the settlement or other award if their lawsuit is successful.

If you work in an assisted living facility and are concerned that your employers are submitting false claims to the government or engaging in other illegal activity, consider contacting the attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher.

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