Charges that Omnicare forgave nursing providers' debts as a form of kickbacks can proceed, judge rules

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Federal court allows whistleblower to pursue charges against Omnicare
Federal court allows whistleblower to pursue charges against Omnicare

A whistleblower can pursue charges that long-term care pharmacy Omnicare ignored skilled nursing companies' overdue bills in exchange for certain kinds of business, a federal district court recently ruled.

The scheme involved more than $720 million in overdue Medicare Part A debts, according to allegations brought by Susan Ruscher, a former Omnicare collections manager. The nation's largest long-term care pharmacy did not collect on these bills in exchange for getting more lucrative Medicare Part D and Medicaid business from these important clients, the charges state. Eight skilled nursing operators were named as parties in Ruscher's original complaint, but she has dismissed these defendants, according to court papers.

Omnicare told workers in its collections department to file false reports that debt collection efforts had been made on these accounts, Ruscher contends. 

The kickback case can proceed but is limited to the time period of Ruscher's employment with Omnicare, which was between 2005 and 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled Thursday. Ruscher's original claims were for the period between 1998 and the present.

Omnicare also faces a separate whistleblower suit, charging that the company paid nursing home kickbacks disguised as charitable contributions.

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