Nursing Homes Cough Up $3.8 Million

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The owners and manager of two California nursing homes agreed to pay $3.8 million for billing Medicare and Medi-Cal for “worthless” services, the Justice Department said on Thursday.
     For-profit nursing homes Watsonville Nursing Center and Watsonville Post-Acute Center, their owner-operators CF Watsonville East, LLC and Watsonville West, LLC, and manager ARBA Group also agreed to a five-year corporate integrity agreement that will set up a “robust compliance program” with an independent monitor to ensure compliance with Medicare and Medi-Cal laws, federal prosecutors said.
     The government found that between 2007 and 2012, the nursing homes – located an hour south of San Jose – “severely overmedicated” elderly and vulnerable residents. This led to infection, blood poisoning, falls, dehydration, and in some cases death among other things, prosecutors said.
     The nursing homes took federal and state money to do little more than keep the patients drugged up, the government said.
     “It’s outrageous when nursing home owners accept Medicare and Medicaid money to care for vulnerable nursing home residents and in return provide care so lacking in quality and compassion it shocks the senses,” said Special Agent in Charge Ivan Negroni, who investigated the case for the Department of Health and Human Services.
     U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who prosecuted the case, agreed.
     “The allegations in this complaint are appalling,” she said. “It is my hope that the families whose loved ones suffer at the hands of nursing homes that provide substandard care can find solace in the commitment from me that these owners, operators, and managers will be held accountable for their actions.”

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