Judge gives provider reprieve on $347 million penalty

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A Florida-based provider has breathing room to appeal a $347 million judgment after a federal judge said the payment could force 183 facilities to collapse.

Four facilities were found guilty by a federal jury last month of fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid in a False Claims Act case started by a whistleblower. The companies liable for $347 million are CMC II, Salus Rehabilitation, 207 Marshall Drive Operations and 803 Oak Street Operations, Modern Healthcare reported.

But U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday granted an emergency motion to stay the judgments, noting said the facilities don't have the money and forcing them to pay would cause them to default on their loans. That would potentially trigger a halt in operations for 183 facilities and leave 17,000 residents in jeopardy, he said.

“A default would almost certainly lead defendants to immediate economic extinction and could carry the same consequences for the approximately 183 other [entities],” the filing states.

CMC and Salus could file a renewed motion for judgment, which would be due March 29, a legal news service reported.