Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5 Million Verdict in Sex Discrimination Lawsuit as Jury Sides with Former Employee

IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 2, 2017, a former elder care facility executive was awarded a $1.5 million verdict by a federal jury in Washington state. Irene Riggs claims she was fired for complaining about the “sexually charged” environment created by a supervisor’s inappropriate conduct with a nurse. After a three-day trial, the jury awarded her over $232,000 in lost wages up to the date of trial, nearly $802,000 in future lost wages and $500,000 for loss of enjoyment of life after she was fired by Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America Inc. (Life Care).

Alleged Sex Discrimination.

In her suit, the plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to a “sexually charged atmosphere” by a regional vice president, who was her supervisor beginning in 2013, and a registered nurse with whom he was purportedly in a relationship. Riggs alleged the two fondled each other in an office and regularly engaged in intimate conversation, among other inappropriate things, according to court documents. Additionally, she complained on behalf of herself and colleagues about the conduct directly to the regional vice president, who allegedly became angry and later lodged a complaint with human resources.

In a pretrial brief, the plaintiff said that Life Care’s primary reason for firing her (mental abuse of a resident by unplugging his television) was not true and used as a cover for the real reason. In response, Life Care said that her firing couldn’t constitute discrimination. The company argued that she didn’t report a quid pro quo relationship or a hostile work environment, which are the two types of sex discrimination recognized by the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

She was employed at Life Care’s Sandpoint facility from September 2006 until she was fired on February 1, 2016.

The Jury’s Decision.

The jury determined that Riggs had provided sufficient evidence to show that she opposed what she believed was sex discrimination. Moreover, she was able to show that her report of alleged misconduct by a supervisor was a substantial motivating factor in her firing, and that Life Care didn’t offer a valid justification for her dismissal, according to the verdict.

To read the jury’s verdict in this case, click here.

To learn about a similar case involving sexual harassment and discrimination, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Attorneys Experienced in Health Law and Employment Law.

The Health Law Firm represents both employers and employees in the health care industry in defending allegations of employment discrimination and other complaints from employees and patients. We represent employers in unemployment compensation hearings, in defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, and in defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, as well as other types of contract or employment litigation. We also can investigate such allegations and attempt to negotiate settlements where warranted. Our attorneys represent individuals and institutions in litigation, civil or administrative, state or federal.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Gurrieri, Vin. “Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5M Verdict In Sex Bias Suit.” Law360. (November 2, 2017). Web.

“Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5M Verdict In Sex Bias Lawsuit.” Lexis Nexis. (November 2, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for workplace discrimination, legal representation for employee discrimination, legal representation for nursing homes, legal representation for elder care facilities, legal representation for home health facilities, nursing home representation, home health care facility representation, nursing law defense attorney, elder care facility representation, legal representation for nurses, legal representation for health care facilities, health care facility defense attorney, legal representation for sexual harassment and discrimination, employment law, legal representation for employment matters, employment law defense attorney, unemployment compensation hearings, defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, legal representation for contract law, legal representation for contract litigation, legal representation for employment litigation, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

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Big News For Nursing Homes: Federal Government’s Ban On Nursing Home Arbitration Blocked

5 Indest-2008-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 7, 2016, a Mississippi federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the federal government’s ban on mandatory arbitration in cases involving nursing homes. The order from U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills granted a preliminary injunction sought by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and prevents the ban from taking effect on Nov. 28.

The proposed rule, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), bans so-called pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts, which require patients and families to settle any dispute over care in arbitration, rather than through the court system.

To learn more about the rule, click here.

Click here to read the final rule issued by CMS.

Not Everyone Agrees With The Rule.

In Judge Mills’s order, he wrote that the CMS “does not have the authority to ban nursing home arbitration on general policy grounds,” even if the goal of protecting elderly Americans is a worthy one.

Additionally, Judge Mills added that CMS could conceivably justify the ban by citing its authority to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents. But, that would require “an exceedingly broad understanding of agency authority.”

Click here to read Judge Mill’s order in full.

AHCA, a top trade group for nursing homes, shared their disapproval of the ban and stated that they are happy with the outcome. “We believe federal law plainly prohibits CMS from issuing this arbitration regulation, and this injunction will halt implementation of the final rule until the court can consider the merits of the case,” the association said.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Nursing Home Cases.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent nursing homes and nursing home employees in a number of different matters including incorporation, preparing contracts, defending the facility against malpractice claims, licensing and regulatory matters, administrative hearings, and routine legal advice.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Sources:

Overley, Jeff. “BREAKING: Feds’ Ban On Nursing Home Arbitration Blocked.” Law360. (November 7, 2016). Web.

Corkery, Michael. “U.S. Just Made It A lot More Easier To Sue Nursing Homes.” The New York Times. (September 29, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Nursing home arbitration cases, U.S. ban on mandatory arbitration for nursing homes, legal representation for American Health Care Association (AHCA) investigations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), legal representation for nursing homes, CMS investigation defense lawyer, Medicare and Medicaid defense attorney, reviews for The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

CMS Drops Florida Nursing Home From Medicare Program After 14 Patients Died During Storm

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On October 12, 2017, federal health officials announced they are dropping a Florida nursing home from the Medicare program after 14 patients died allegedly as a result of the Hurricane Irma emergency. On Sept. 13, 2017, eight residents died and the others were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after the facility lost air conditioning. Six more have since died, which attorneys say was a result of the conditions and evacuations immediately after the storm.

CMS Sanctions.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a statement that the facility will be terminated “due to their [sic] failure to meet Medicare’s basic health and safety requirements.” CMS also imposed a penalty of $20,965 a day for the three days that Hollywood Hills lost power to its air conditioning unit.

Under the CMS sanctions, Medicare will continue to pay the Hollywood Hills center through November 12, 2017, for any care that was provided to residents before the evacuation and closure.

This incident is what allegedly prompted Florida Governor Rick Scott to impose emergency rules requiring all nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Florida (over 3,000 facilities) to have emergency power generators and fuel installed within 60 days to keep their residents air conditioned for up to 96 hours during a power failure. To read more on the emergency rule, click here.

Despite all this, the rehabilitation center has not given up hope on reopening. A spokeswoman for Hollywood Hills said they’ll appeal the decision and look forward to showing evidence that their actions were consistent with all state and federal rules.

To learn more about CMS’s authority to suspend or terminate Medicare to providers, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

If you receive any notice related to any audit, overpayment or action to terminate you or your company, take immediate action. The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

We also represent physicians, medical groups, pharmacies. health facilities and therapists in notices of termination of Medicare billing privileges, corrective action plans (CAPs), OIG exclusion hearings, Medicaid hearings and applications for removal from the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE).

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Chang, Daniel. “Feds to cut Medicare for Hollywood Hills nursing home after residents died.” Miami Herald. (October 12, 2017). Web.

“Florida nursing home where 14 died cut from Medicare program.” Associated Press. (October 12, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for Medicare investigations, legal representation for Medicare exclusion, Medicare attorney, Medicare defense attorney, OIG exclusion, legal representation for nursing home compliance, legal representation for nursing home regulations, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), legal representation for CMS investigations, legal representation for Medicare providers, nursing facility license defense, legal attorney for health facilities, CMS termination of Medicare provider status, legal representation for Medicare reinstatement, legal representation for health care compliance, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

U.S. Court in Florida Dismisses Whistleblower’s Complaint Against Nuclear Pharmacy

PS 4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On September 28, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed a relator’s (whistle blower’s) False Claims Act (FCA) complaint against a nuclear pharmacy in Tampa. The court found that the relator failed to plead fraud with the required amount of specificity that the law requires.  The case awas filed against GE Healthcare, Inc.’s nuclear pharmacy.

The Allegations.

GE Healthcare operates 31 nuclear pharmacies in the United States, where it produces radiopharmaceuticals through a process of compounding drugs.  The relator was a board-certified nuclear pharmacist who formerly worked at GE Healthcare, Inc.’s nuclear pharmacy in Tampa, Florida. The relator’s allegations included the manner in which GE compounded and labeled radiopharmaceuticals. More specifically, the whistle blower claimed that GE sold diluted and expired drugs. Additionally, the whistle blower alleged that GE falsely inflated the reimbursement rate for certain drugs by providing false sales data to Medicare.

GE argued that the realtor’s claims should be dismissed pursuant to the FCA’s public disclosure bar because the allegations overlapped with an action filed by a different relator, James Wagel, in 2006. To read about this FCA case, click here.

The Court’s Decision. 

The court found that Sunil Patel’s allegations were not “based on” or “substantially the same as” the allegations in the prior public disclosures. However, the court dismissed the realtor’s claims on another ground:  failing to plead the allegedly fraudulent claims with sufficient particularity. According to the court, the allegations that defendant “presented or caused to be presented” a false claim fell “well short of alleging ‘exact billing data.'”  In other words, the relator failed to plead one or more false claims by giving the specifics, such as date, amount, patient, billing code, amount paid by the government, etc.  The court found that the relator identified no “particular facts about the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ of fraudulent submissions to the government.”

The case is United States ex rel. Patel v. GE Healthcare Inc., No. 8:14-cv-120-T-33TGW (M.D. Fla. Sept. 28, 2017).

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar FCA case involving a pharmaceutical company.

Specifics of the False Claims Are Required for Any Qui Tam Whistle Blower’s Case.

This is one of the biggest short comings we see in potential clients who contact us with information about false claims being submitted by their employers or other healthcare providers.  They do not have the specifics of any single false claim.  Yet the law requires this or a whistle blower’s case can get dismissed by the court outright.  You can do an awful lot of work investigating, pleading and litigating a whistle blower’s case only to have the court dismiss it without its ever getting anywhere near a trial.  Even if a scheme or system is inherently fraudulent, you must be able to show one or more claims that were submitted were actually false claims.

We advise health care professionals who consult us with possible False Claims Act/whistle blowers cases, be sure you have the details, and preferably copies of the documents, that show a false bill was submitted to the government.  This can be a CMS Form 1500 or an explanation of benefits that the patient and the insurer or facility receives back.  Sometimes you can get these form the patient if you do not have access to these from the employer.  But without a false claim and, preferably, a number of false claims, you don’t really have a False Claims Act suit.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistle Blower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and health facilities in qui tam or whistleblower cases both in defending such claims and in bringing such claims. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding, and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented doctors, nurses and others as relators in bringing qui tam or whistleblower cases, as well.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com

Sources:

Fraud and Compliance. “U.S. Court in Florida Dismisses Whistleblower Action Against Nuclear Pharmacy.” AHLA Weekly. (October 6, 2017). Web.

Mayo, Rebecca. “Evidence of likely submission not enough to prove FCA violation.” Wolters Kluwer Health Law Daily. (October 2, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for allegations of health care fraud, False Claims Act (FCA) attorney, FCA defense attorney, False Claims attorney, legal representation for FCA investigations, legal representation for FCA complaints, Whistleblower attorney, Whistleblower defense attorney, legal representation for Whistleblower investigations, legal representation for Whistleblower complaints, qui tam attorney, qui tam defense attorney, legal representation for qui tam cases, legal representation for qui tam investigations, FCA legal representation, relator attorney, relator defense attorney, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Department of Health and Law Enforcement Investigate School Providing Nurse Practitioner Courses

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A subpoena purportedly issued by the Clerk of Court for Seminole County, Florida, recently requested academic records on advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students, including preceptorship agreements for clinical courses they had taken. A follow-up inquiry revealed that the Florida Department of Health was behind the subpoena, seeking evidence concerning possible fraudulent practices involving the supervision of those clinicals.

Apparently South University, which has its main campus and headquarters located in Savannah, Georgia, but offers courses in Florida, had agreements with one or more physicians in the Orlando area to furnish training for nurse practitioner students within their medical practices. Under the terms of the agreement, the physician was required to provide a nurse practitioner to supervise the student taking the clinicals.

However, what is being investigated is the allegation that no nurse practitioners were actually used to supervise those clinicals and the students. Instead, it is apparently being alleged that the names of various licensed advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were used without their knowledge and put down as the supervisors for those students’ clinicals. Supposedly at least 20 names of nurse practitioners have been fraudulently used in this manner. Apparently the names of the nurse practitioners were also fraudulently signed to attestations that the students had actually completed the hours of clinical training. Usually there were four quarters or rotations of clinicals required of each student, encompassing hundreds of hours of clinical time.

It is estimated that over 100 advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students went through this program and graduated. Based on their advanced degrees, they were licensed as advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) by the Florida Department of Health.

Will those unsupervised student clinical hours be disallowed?

The question is whether action will be taken by the Florida Department of Health, or another organization, to disallow those clinical nurse practitioner hours gained by students in this manner. If so, many who are currently licensed as nurse practitioners who went through this program may lose their licenses and be required to retake required clinical hours. Both the students and the college were apparently unaware of the fraudulent activity.

This case is reminiscent of the massage therapist cases rising in 2012.

This situation seems somewhat similar to the situation that over 180 Florida licensed massage therapists (LMTs) found themselves during 2012. Click here to read one of our prior blogs on this story.

In the case of the massage therapists, each of them had taken courses and graduated from a school in another state. However, when they moved to Florida they had to have the courses re-certified by a Florida approved college and take the additional required courses for Florida licensure. They went to a well known, reputable private college offering massage therapy courses. They paid their tuition and were provided documentation showing that their out of state credits had been transferred in. They were provided other documents by the college showing that they had completed all course requirements and met the standards for licensure. They received their Florida licenses based on this.

Later it was discovered that the registrar at that college had actually been stealing the tuition money paid by these massage therapists and not enrolling them in the college. She was falsifying college documents, including course completion certificates, diplomas, transcripts and other documents using the college’s official seal on them. To see a class action law suit filed discussing this scheme in greater detail, click here.

When the Florida Department of Health found out about this situation, it reacted in a “knee-jerk” fashion and did an emergency suspension of hundreds of massage therapist’s licenses, many of them with no advance notice to the massage therapists. To see a blog I wrote on this, click here.

Hundreds of massage therapist who could not afford to pay a lawyer to mount a legal defense wound up having their licenses revoked or felt compelled to voluntary relinquish their licenses. They lost their national certification in massage therapy because of this.

However, the massage therapists who challenged the revocation and demanded a formal administrative hearing on it, many of whom we represented, were successful in keeping their licenses, mainly because they were not at fault and did not know what the crooked registrar was doing.

Actions to take if you are a nurse practitioner notified of licensure action or that you are under investigation:

Following are the recommendations we would make to any potential client contacting us who has been notified that he or she may be under investigation by the Florida Department of Health or law enforcement authorities:

1. Do not talk to or make any statement, oral or written, to any investigator without first consulting with an experienced health law attorney.

2. Immediately obtain the services of an experienced health law attorney to represent you in the case.

3. Check with your professional liability insurance carrier for any professional liability insurance you had at the time or currently have to see if they will cover the matter. Your current policy may not cover it unless you had it when the events occurred. However, it might.

4. Do not respond to any subpoena for records for testimony until you have consulted with an experienced health law attorney. Even a current professional liability insurance policy should cover you in responding to a subpoena or if a deposition is sought.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, voluntarily relinquish your license, without retaining any experienced health law attorney familiar with this matter to represent you. Such a relinquishment may be the equivalent of a revocation and reported to national reporting bodies as such.

6. If charges arise and you are offered the right to a hearing, always elect a formal administration hearing at which you dispute the issues. Do not elect an informal hearing. In an informal hearing, you have to agree that the charges against you are true, in effect, admitting you are guilty. Do not make that common mistake.

If you desire to see information on emergency suspension orders and emergency restriction orders, click here.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health (DOH) Investigations of Nurse Practitioners.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, Board of Nursing investigations , administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for nurses, legal representation for nursing students, legal representation for ARNPs, legal representation for ARNP students, Licensure Defense Representation, Investigation Representation, Department of Health Investigations, Board of Nursing Investigations , Administrative Hearings, Emergency Suspension Orders, Emergency Restriction Orders, nurse attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, nursing student defense attorney, ARNP defense attorney, legal representation for licensure issues, legal representation for medical students, legal representation for investigations of health care professionals, DOH investigation defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

Jury Finds Four New Orleans Doctors and Others Guilty for Participation in $13.6 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On May 9, 2017, a federal jury found four New Orleans doctors and two others guilty for their participation in a Medicare fraud scheme. According to prosecutors the defendants netted more than $13.6 million in fraudulent Medicare reimbursements.

Details of the Scheme.

The six defendants worked for or with Abide Home Care Services (Abide) in New Orleans. Federal prosecutors said Abide routinely falsified diagnoses so Medicare reimbursements were inflated. Abide also falsified medical records that supported medically unnecessary home health services, prosecutors said. Abide was owned by Lisa Crinel, who pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme in 2015.

In exchange for their role in the scheme, Abide made monthly payments to the doctors that were falsely characterized as medical consultant or director fees. Abide also hired Dr. Michael Jones’ wife Paula Jones and inflated her salary payments to pay for fraudulently certifying documents. Additionally, Jonathan Nora scheduled doctor visits with Abide “well knowing” that the referral did not come from the beneficiary’s own health care professional.

The Trial.

After a month long trial, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts against the six individuals charged with committing Medicare fraud. Found guilty were Dr. Henry Evans, Dr. Michael Jones and his wife Paula Jones, Dr. Shelton Barnes, Dr. Gregory Molden and Jonathon Nora. Click here to read the press release issued by Acting U.S. Attorney Duane Evans’s Office in Eastern District of Louisiana.

The Consequences.

Dr. Evans was found guilty of five counts of health care fraud. Dr. Michael Jones, Paula Jones, Dr. Barnes, Dr. Molden and Jonathan Nora each were found guilty of conspiracies to commit health care fraud, defrauding the United States, receiving and paying kickbacks and health care fraud, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office. The four doctors and Nora were convicted of additional individual counts of health care fraud. Dr. Shelton Barnes was additionally convicted of obstruction of a federal audit.

Dr. Barnes faces a maximum penalty of up to 170 years in federal prison; Dr. Molden faces up to 115 years; Dr. Michael Jones faces up to 95 years; Dr. Evans faces up to 50 years in federal prison; Paula Jones faces up to 15 years; and Nora faces up to 25 years. Each also faces a maximum fine of up to $250,000 for each count.

Doctors Beware.

In our practice we have represented a number of doctors who have been exploited by nonphysicians intent on committing fraud. They will often target older and semi-retired physicians. The goal is merely to get their name and identification number to use in falsifying medical records and claims. If the deal you are being offered seems like too good of a deal, involves little or no work on your part to receive a large check each month or involves working for nonphysicians or individuals you do not know, you should beware. Always know who you are working for, the location of their actual place of business and residence, and with whom (physician-wise) they have done business before. You do not want to spend the later years of your life in prison, after pursuing an honorable career for decades.
Health Care Fraud Should Not Be Taken Lightly.

We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal convictions for fraud or related offenses. In many cases, those subject to Medicare fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter. Some may even decide not to spend the money required for a highly experienced health attorney to defend them.

The government is serious about combating health care fraud. It created a Medicare Fraud Strike Force in March of 2007, in an effort to further prevent and eliminate fraud and abuse of government health care programs. False claims are a growing problem in the program, costing the government billions of dollars each year. Accordingly, punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe.

If you are accused of Medicare fraud, realize that you are in a fight for your life. Your liberty, property/possessions and profession are all at stake. Often it is possible to settle allegations of Medicare fraud by agreeing to pay civil monetary penalties and fines. If given such an opportunity, the Medicare provider should consider whether it is worth the risk of facing decades in prison. Be prepared to give up whatever you need to in order to avoid a conviction and preserve your liberty.

To read further about the seriousness of Medicare fraud, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Additionally, you can watch our informational video blog on Medicare fraud, here.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.
Sources:

Lane, Emily. “4 New Orleans doctors, 2 others convicted in $13.6 million Medicare fraud scheme.” The Times-Picayune. (May 10, 2017). Web.

“4 New Orleans doctors, 2 others convicted in $13.6 million Medicare fraud scheme.” Health Leaders Media. (May 11. 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
Keywords: Legal representation for Medicare fraud, Medicare fraud defense attorney, legal representation for allegations of Medicare fraud, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for fraudulent billing, legal representation for allegations of defrauding the government, legal representation for submitting false claims, Medicare audit defense attorney, Medicare billing defense attorney, health care clinic fraud audit, legal representation for illegal kickbacks, Medicare false claims defense attorney, legal representation for false billing, legal representation for allegations of unnecessary procedures, legal representation for Medicare audits, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Health law defense attorney

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Finding an Attorney/Lawyer Who Takes CPH & Associates (CPH&A) Insurance To Represent Nurses in Complaint Investigations

IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

We often hear from nurses who call and retain us to represent them in complaints against their nursing licenses in professional licensing complaints and investigations. This includes letters from the Department of Health (DOH) advising them that they are being investigated, Administrative Complaints, emergency restriction orders (EROs), and emergency suspension orders (ESOs).

In many cases they had good insurance coverage with CPH & Associates (CPH&A) Insurance, but could not find an attorney that would accept it. Often these nurses retain us after adverse disciplinary action has already been taken. They retain us to appeal or attempt to reverse an adverse disciplinary action taken against their license, including revocations.

Finding legal counsel that accepts your insurance should not be a difficult task. Our firm and its attorneys have accepted CPH&A Insurance for years.

Our firm has attorneys that are licensed in and can defend nurses in Florida, Colorado, Louisiana, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Additionally, there are many states, such as Tennessee, Georgia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and others, which allow us to appear before their boards and represent clients in these state under their “multi-jurisdictional practice” rules, because this is an area in which we routinely practice.

Legal areas in which we can represent an CPH&A insured that CPH&A will pay for include: investigations commenced against a nurse’s license, administrative hearings, complaints against a professional license, emergency restriction orders, emergency suspension orders, administrative complaints, appeals from adverse disciplinary actions, a deposition for which you may be subpoenaed, and many others.

Regardless of the state, contact us at:

The Health Law Firm, Main Office
1101 Douglas Ave.
ALtamonte Springs, FL 32714
Phone: (407) 331-6620
Fax: (407) 331-3030
Website: http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com
Internet Contact: http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com/contact-us/

One last word, regardless of whether you are covered by CPH&A Insurance or not, if an investigator contacts you to obtain a statement from you, whether orally or in writing, always, always, always, consult with an experienced attorney in this area BEFORE giving any statement or talking to the investigator about anything.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Nursing Issues Today.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nurse practitioners, and CRNAs in investigations, contract negotiations, licensing issues and at Board of Nursing hearings. They also advise nurses wrongfully accused of diverting drugs and those wrongfully terminated from employment. Its attorneys represent nurses in DOH investigations, Board of Nursing cases and administrative hearings.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

 

KeyWords: Legal representation for nurses, Board of Nursing investigation defense attorney, Nurse defense attorney, legal counsel for Board of Nursing investigations and hearings, health care professional defense attorney, legal representation for medical professionals, CPH & Associates (CPH&A) Insurance health law attorneys, legal representation for cases dealing with CPH & Associates (CPH&A) Insurance, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Florida health law attorney, legal representation for administrative hearings, legal representation for complaints against a professional license, licensure defense attorney, legal representation for a complaint made for violation of HIPAA or patient privacy, legal representation for nurses in Florida, legal representation for nurses in Colorado, legal representation for nurses in Louisiana, legal representation for nurses in Virginia and legal representation for nurses in the District of Columbia

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved

Owner of Louisiana-Based Health Care Company Ordered To Pay Nearly $7 Million for Medicaid Fraud

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 20, 2016, the owner of Louisiana-based Millennium Health Care Services (Millennium) was ordered to pay the state nearly $7 million in restitution and will spend 10 years behind bars for his role in a scheme to defraud the Medicaid system, according to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

Millennium’s owner, Dwaine Woods, was ordered to pay $6,985,249 in restitution after his wife and the company were all found guilty of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to create multiple fake CPR cards for Millennium staff. The staff did not undergo training to be properly certified in CPR, Landry said.

The Dangerous Scheme.

Millennium operated from 2004 to 2010 and was solely funded by the government program Medicaid. According to Landry, the fake CPR card scheme was not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. “Instead of service workers learning necessary skills, they were fraudulently getting certifications without any training — greatly jeopardizing the health and safety of patients.”

Millennium was convicted of 19 counts of forgery, one count of theft by fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit forgery. In addition to the restitution payment, the company was also ordered to pay $17,500 in fines.

Dynetta Woods was also convicted of 19 counts of forgery and one count of conspiracy to commit forgery. She was reportedly sentenced to five years of supervised probation and ordered to pay $54,730 in restitution and $5,000 in fines. Additionally, she is forever barred from doing business with the state of Louisiana, according to Landry. Dwaine Woods was convicted of theft by fraud.

To learn about a similar case of Medicaid fraud and the repercussions, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Never Falsify Any Documents if You Are a Medicare or Medicaid Provider.

We have represented a number of owners of Medicare and Medicaid providers that were investigated, charged and convicted of fraud because they had falsified, forged, created or changed documents that were in their employees’ files. These have included items so simple as the expiration date on a CPR card, but have also included forging diplomas and other qualifying credentials. State Medicaid programs and the Medicare Program takes such matters very seriously. Often prison time will result for the owners of the company.

This can also be the basis for large recoveries under federal and state whistle blower (false claims act) laws. Submission of a false statement or false document to a federal official is a felony. Employees of Medicare and Medicaid providers who are aware that their employers have falsified documents can blow the whistle on them and collect large rewards under one of the applicable false claims acts (whistle blower laws).

Fraud Investigations Are a Very Serious Matter.

We have been consulted by many individuals similar to the subject of this story, both before and after criminal convictions for fraud or related offenses. In many instances, we are convinced that the person is actually not guilty of fraud. However, in many cases those subject to Medicaid or Medicare fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter or they decide not to spend the money required to retain the services of an experienced attorney to help defend them.

If you are accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, realize that you are in the fight of your life. Your liberty, life and profession are at stake. You need to sell everything you own, borrow everything you can and hire the absolute best criminal defense attorney available who has experience in defending such cases to represent you.

If you win and are acquitted, at least you still have a professional license and can start over. However, if you lose, you will most probably be in prison for years. You will lose your license. You will be excluded from Medicare. You will be a convicted felon. You will have nothing and will have no way of starting over successfully.

Do not delude yourself. This is extremely serious. Be prepared to give up whatever you have if you can avoid a conviction.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicaid Audits, Investigations and other Legal Proceedings.

Medicaid fraud is a serious crime and is vigorously investigated by the state MFCU, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs), the FBI, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Often other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and other law enforcement agencies participate. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you are concerned of any possible violations and would like a confidential consultation, contact a qualified health attorney familiar with medical billing and audits today. Often Medicaid fraud criminal charges arise out of routine Medicaid audits, probe audits, or patient complaints.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (AFLs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Kennedy, John. “La. Medicaid Fraudster Will Pay Nearly $7M In Restitution.” Law360. (December 20, 2016). Web.

Gyan, Joe. “Prairieville couple sentenced in $7 million Medicaid fraud scheme.” The Advocate. (December 20, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Medicaid fraud defense attorney, Medicaid investigation defense attorney, legal representation for conspiracy to commit Medicaid fraud, legal counsel for Medicaid audits, legal representation for Medicaid audits, health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for Medicaid fraud, health care fraud investigation defense lawyer, legal representation for conspiracy for defraud the government, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Florida Medicaid Fraud defense attorney, Colorado Medicaid Fraud defense attorney, Louisiana Medicaid Fraud defense attorney, Kentucky Medicaid Fraud defense attorney, Virginia Medicaid Fraud defense attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) Medicaid Fraud defense attorney, legal representation for whistleblower suits, whistleblower defense attorney, legal counsel for whistleblower, legal represenation for qui tam cases, qui tam defense attorney, legal representation for qui tam/whistblower investigations

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999, and is also a registered service mark.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved

Florida Federal Judge Triples Award to $347 Million in Rare Whistleblower Case

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On March 1, 2017, a Florida federal judge tripled a $115 million damages award for the government to $347 million after a jury found that the operators of 53 nursing facilities submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. U.S. District Judge, Steven D. Merryday, upheld the jury’s $115 award affirming that the operators of the 53 nursing facilities had violated the False Claims Act (FCA). The case is U.S. ex rel. Ruckh v. CMC II LLC et al., case number 8:11-cv-01303, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The whistleblower in the case, Angela Ruckh, a former nurse at two of the facilities, brought the allegations against four defendants that they had submitted false claims and fraudulent records to the government. The four defendants in the case are CMC II LLC, Salus Rehabilitation LLC, 207 Marshall Drive Operations LLC and 803 Oak Street Operations LLC.

Details of the Case.

On February 15, 2017, the jury found that the four defendants had falsely increased the amount of resources needed for their patients needed, in order to get more money from Medicare and Medicaid. In the jury’s verdict, the four defendants were ordered to pay $115 million in damages for violating the FCA. Click here to read the jury’s verdict in full.

Treble Damages for FCA.

This rare FCA case that both went to trial and received a jury verdict, called for treble damages. The four defendants received penalties proportionate to the jury’s allocated findings. Sea Crest Health Care Management, L.L.C. and CMC II, LLC were ordered to pay $291,160,608 to the U.S. government and $39,897,291 to the Florida government. Salus Rehabilitation LLC was required to pay $484,000 to the U.S. government. 207 Marshall Drive Operations L.L.C. incurred $6,266,424 of damages owed to the federal government and 803 Oak Street Operations, LLC was penalized $10,055,961 to be paid back to the U.S. government. Click here to read the order from this case in full.

To learn more about FCA violations and cases of fraud involving a relator or whistleblower, click here to read one of our prior blogs.

Nurses and Other Employees Are Often Whistle Blowers in These Big Cases.

It is often a nurse or other health professional employed by the facility that is the whistle blower in such cases. They are in a position to know whether or not services are being provided and whether or not they are medically necessary. They are often in a position to see if false bills are being submitted for the patients.

In a case such as this one, where the U.S. did not intervene to take the case forward and the whistleblower and her attorneys did, she can receive an award of up to thirty percent (30%) of the recovery or $104,100,000.

Contact an Experienced Health Law Attorney to Assist in Whistleblower/Qui Tam Cases.

If you have knowledge of false claims being filed against Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE/CHAMPUS or any other type of government program, please contact us, and we will be happy to assist you. Our law firm represents health professionals and health care organizations almost exclusively. Yet, we have been involved in a number of whistleblower/qui tam cases, in which we represent the person who files the claim.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Smith, Mara. “Florida Judge Trebles Award to $347 Million in Whistleblower Case.” AHCA. (March 1, 2017). Web.

Bolado, Carolina. “Judge Triples Nursing Home Cos.’ Fraud Penalty To $347M.” Law360. (March 6, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: False Claims Act (FCA) violations, FCA defense attorney, Medicare and Medicaid fraud defense attorney, Medicare false claims, legal representation for FCA violations, legal representation for overbilling Medicare and Medicaid, legal representation for submitting false claims to the government, Legal representation for Medicare fraud, legal counsel for Medicare audit, legal representation for whistleblower, qui taim, qui tam suits, qui tam relator, whistleblower defense attorney, Medicare fraud defense attorney, Medicaid fraud defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.