Skilled Healthcare Group and a Nevada hospice that it operates have been charged with submitting “tens of millions of dollars” in false Medicare and Medicaid claims, the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced.
Management at Creekside Hospice in Las Vegas used the term “chart killers” to describe documentation showing patients were improving and might no longer qualify for the hospice benefit, according to the complaint. Staff were discouraged from updating the medical records with these improvements, the government contends. Other charges include repeated upcoding, falsifying medical records to indicate that physician visits had occurred when they hadn’t, and inappropriate actions to prevent families and beneficiaries from revoking their election of the hospice benefit.
The federal False Claims lawsuit originated as two whistleblower complaints brought by former Creekside managers.
The complaint specifically identifies only 11 patients that “questioned services” out of the hundreds served during the relevant 2010 to 2013 time period, Skilled Healthcare pointed out in a statement issued on behalf of Creekside. The companies dispute the allegations and will “vigorously defend” against them, and they note that there are no allegations of deficient care.
“Creekside has long supported the Las Vegas community with hospice services by highly credentialed, dedicated and compassionate health care professionals within the requirements of Medicare regulations and will continue to do so,” the statement asserts.
Creekside offers hospice services to patients in their homes or in long-term care facilities, as well as at an inpatient facility, according to its website. Skilled Healthcare Group operates more than 100 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, and operates hospice and home health in six states. The company’s administrative services subsidiary, Skilled Healthcare LLC, also was named in the suit.