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A company that provides mental telehealth services to skilled nursing residents has agreed to pay the federal government $4.6 million to resolve false claims allegations.

Supportive Care Holdings LLC and its CEO, Joseph Newmark, had been under investigation by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General for alleged billing misconduct between 2019 and 2023. The settlement was announced Thursday by the US Attorney’s Office of the District of Connecticut.

Telehealth services have become increasingly vital to seniors and long-term care providers in recent years — especially in rural areas where healthcare can be difficult to access for patients with mobility or high-needs issues. 

But efforts to make temporary telehealth funding permanent have been somewhat controversial. Policymakers have raised concerns over the potential for higher overbilling and fraud than in traditional, in-person healthcare settings.

Supportive care allegedly submitted years worth of “telehealth originating site facility fees” on top of billing for the services they provided for skilled nursing residents. Those fees should have only been claimed by the nursing homes themselves, according to a report released Thursday by the US Attorney’s Office of the District of Connecticut.

Further claims of services provided to nursing homes were allegedly provided to patients who had already been transferred to other healthcare settings, such as hospitals. 

Supportive Care did not respond to McKnight’s request for comment Friday. Nursing homes were not implicated in any of the alleged wrongdoings.

An official from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recently told McKnight’s that previous concerns about “rampant” false claims in telehealth did not appear to be grounded in reality, but that maintaining the integrity of government services should still be a key priority for Congress as it determines the future of telehealth funding.