TN Nursing Homes Accused of Medicare Fraud

     NASHVILLE (CN) — The federal government and state of Tennessee claim in court that Vanguard Healthcare filed millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent Medicare and TennCare claims for “worthless” nursing-home services.
     The False Claims Act lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Middle Tennessee Federal Court, accuses Brentwood, Tenn.-based Vanguard and six of its related entities of billing the state and federal governments for “non-existent, grossly substandard and/or worthless nursing home services.”
     It also claims Vanguard filed fraudulent claims for pre-admission forms with forged physician and nurse signatures.
     “The United States and Tennessee suffered millions of dollars in damages when Medicare and TennCare paid defendants for such false or fraudulent claims,” the complaint states.
     Six of Vanguard’s Tennessee nursing homes did not provide basic and essentials services to residents, according to the complaint.
     Alleged problems included staffing shortages, lack of medical supplies, failure to administer medication as prescribed by physicians, failure to adequately manage residents’ pain, and the administrative of excessive psychotropic medication to residents.
     As a result, nursing-home residents suffered pressure ulcers, falls, dehydration, malnutrition and other ailments, the lawsuit states.
     The state and federal governments seek civil penalties between $5,500 and $11,000 for each False Claims Act violation, and between $5,000 and $25,000 for each violation of the Tennessee Medicaid False Claims Act.
     They are represented by Susan Lynch of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Division and Ellen McIntyre with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nashville. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III also signed the 60-page complaint.
     Vanguard said in a statement that the allegations are without merit and the company is committed to delivering high-quality care.

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