SNFs pay $3.8 million to settle false claims and overmedication charges

The false claims were over $20 million, the government said
The false claims were over $20 million, the government said

The owners of two California nursing homes have agreed to pay $3.8 million to the federal government to settle allegations they submitted false Medicare and Medicaid claims and overmedicated residents over a five-year period, according to the Justice Department.

Watsonville Nursing Center and Watsonville Post-Acute Center, formerly known as Country Villa Watsonville East Nursing Center and Country Villa Watsonville West Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, respectively, also will enter into a five-year corporate integrity agreement, the department announced.

The settlement ends a case that began with an August 2014 government complaint the facilities submitted false claims worth “more than $20 million,” according to local news reports. The questioned charges were for “materially substandard or worthless services” billed to the federal Medicare and state Medi-Cal programs. The complaint also alleged that between 2007 and 2012, the facilities “persistently overmedicated elderly and vulnerable residents of the nursing homes,” causing infection, sepsis, malnutrition, dehydration, falls, fractures, pressure ulcers, and for some residents, premature death, the Justice Department added.

Under the corporate integrity agreement announced on Thursday, the facilities have agreed to implement and maintain a robust compliance program and retain an independent monitor to help ensure the nursing homes' compliance with Medicare and Medicaid regulations and standards of care.