Feds join lawsuit against nursing home operator

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The Department of Justice has joined a whistleblower fraud lawsuit against a former nursing home operator in Mississippi.

The lawsuit was originally filed by Academy Health Center, which says the operator of the 120-bed Oxford Health & Rehabilitation Center in Lumberton charged Medicare and Medicaid for services that were not provided.

The allegation is that Douglas Mittleider and his companies, called the Hyperion Foundation and Altacare Management Corporation, operated the nursing home for seven years but withheld supplies and the proper amount of staff, the Associated Press reported. Among the allegations were that towels, garbage bags, laundry bags and oxygen bottles were rationed, and employees were sometimes asked to delay cashing their paychecks.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid terminated their provider agreement with Oxford in 2010, court records show.  

Academy asserts that Mittleider took his scheme nationally and controls more than 30 other nursing homes. In 2010, the Stamford Advocate in Connecticut reported that nursing home workers at Tandet Center for Continuing Care, which was operated by Altacare, were picketing in part because of payroll checks bouncing.

Academy had leased Oxford to Hyperion in 2005, and took the company to court in 2008 over what it said was failure to pay rent and interest. Academy is now again running what has been renamed the Lamar Health & Rehabilitation Center, a spokesman told the AP.

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