Preferred Care Partners seeks to dismiss suit over care, billing issues

One of the nation's largest nursing home chains is looking to thwart what it alleges is a conspiracy by private law firms trying to convince state officials to sue large corporations. Texas-based Preferred Care Partners Management Group also is arguing to dismiss a lawsuit the state Attorney General filed against it last March.

“The state's action … is becoming a textbook case for these lawyers who put money in the campaign coffers of attorneys general across the country and then push them to file questionable claims against various in-state businesses,”  said Mike Gavin, president of Preferred Care Partners, on Thursday.

The New York Times published an article in December that alleged to expose “part of a flourishing industry that pairs plaintiffs' lawyers with state attorneys general to sue companies.” The firms allegedly convinced the officials to pay them a portion of the cash settlements earned in successful prosecutions. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas firmly refuted Preferred Care Partners' assertion this week, vowing to “aggressively” protect citizens from operators providing “inadequate care and denying helpless and vulnerable residents basic services.”

Seven nursing homes run by Preferred Care Partners Management Group were originally named in the lawsuit that alleged inadequate provision of resources led to poor care and improper billing. Preferred Care Partners Management Group earlier argued that the allegations cover incidents that occurred at the facilities before it acquired them.

In its amended complaint, the state uses an unusual formula based on the number of hours caregivers take to complete basic tasks to prove its inadequate staffing claims. The nursing home operator, meanwhile, has asserted that the formula has never been used before by the state Department of Health and has never been adopted in any court or been recognized in the healthcare community, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported on Wednesday.