Skilled nursing company pays $142k to settle allegations of prohibited-employee use

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Southwest Trinity Management has agreed to a $142,000 settlement to resolve allegations that a skilled nursing facility it owns and manages employed a nurse who was excluded from participating in any federal healthcare program.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General announced the February settlement Wednesday. On its website, the OIG said an investigation revealed the excluded worker, a licensed practical nurse, had provided services to patients whose care was billed to federal healthcare programs.

Federal regulations require operators to exclude physicians, nurses, pharmacists, managers or anyone else convicted of program-related crimes from providing or overseeing any care paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. The OIG said the prohibited worker was employed at an Oklahoma City facility, but no further details were available.

Attempts by McKnight's to locate Southwest Trinity Management or its officials on Wednesday were unsuccessful. A long-term care company with a similar name operating in Oklahoma and Texas said it was not involved in any recent settlements.

Civil monetary penalty law allows the government to assess fines and exclusions against individuals and entities who submit false, fraudulent or otherwise improper claims for Medicare or Medicaid payment. "Improper claims" include claims submitted by an excluded individual or entity for items or services furnished during a period of program exclusion.