The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Vencor's Medicare billing practices, the long-term-care company disclosed in its Nov. 14 third-quarter filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Vencor is the second major long-term-care company to acknowledge it is under federal investigation for its Medicare billing practices. Beverly Enterprises, of Fort Smith, Ark., said in July that the Justice Department was investigating its cost-reporting of labor-related expenses (Aug. 10, p. 24).
At least two former Beverly employees are targets of a federal grand jury investigation in San Francisco, the company reported in its most recent SEC filing.
Vencor spokeswoman Susan Moss said that such investigations are "a routine event in the industry. . . . An investigation is just the way that they evaluate your performance."
The company was served with a subpoena in the last two weeks, she said. But Vencor is not sure what the investigation's focus is, she said.
"We have no reason to believe that we have done anything ethically or legally wrong," she added.
Justice Department officials would not comment on the case.
The Louisville, Ky.-based company has faced several other government investigations this year.
In Florida, HCFA said it would fine a Vencor nursing home for discharging low-paying Medicaid patients to free up rooms for more lucrative patients, but the company appealed the fines and HCFA allowed the nursing home to retain its Medicaid certification (May 25, p. 16).
In Wisconsin, HCFA moved to terminate a Vencor-operated home from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, but a U.S. District Court judge in Washington blocked termination with a temporary restraining order (Nov. 9, p. 62).
And in Massachusetts, the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston filed a civil whistleblower lawsuit against Vencor over its Medicare billing practices. The suit is ongoing.
Vencor operates 61 long-term acute-care hospitals and 296 nursing homes in 46 states.