Staff Builders, a home-health agency operating 240 offices in 37 states, overbilled Medicare by nearly $3.5 million in fiscal 1994, according to an audit by HHS' inspector general's office released publicly last week.
Stephen Savitsky, chief executive officer of Staff Builders, said his com-pany is negotiating with the federal agency over the audit's findings and that the report's release is premature.
According to HHS, Lake Success, N.Y.-based Staff Builders charged Medicare nearly $2.5 million that should have been allocated to non-Medicare business.
The company also claimed about $865,000 in costs not allowed by Medicare for items such as lease payments on a Jaguar and a Cadillac used by company officials primarily for personal use.
The audit was performed as part of the inspector general's "Operation Restore Trust," which originally focused on home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities in five states but has since been expanded nationwide.
An agency spokeswoman said HCFA would decide how the funds would be recouped.
In a written response to the report, Staff Builders took issue with many of the agency's findings.
"This is far from being finalized," Savitsky said. "Our attorneys have contacted them to see why they released it."
Savitsky said much of the disagreement resulted from "changes by the (Medicare fiscal) intermediaries," each of whom might have interpreted Medicare laws differently.
He added that the company intended to appeal the final decision.
"No matter what it is, we're going to appeal," Savitsky said.