HHS' inspector general's office and Sun Healthcare Group, Albuquerque, announced last week they have signed a corporate integrity agreement that, like an August 2000 agreement reached with the former Vencor, requires long-term-care provider Sun to address quality of care.
The five-year agreement, which will not be made public until it is approved as part of a bankruptcy reorganization of Sun, also requires the company to better train employees on complying with federal healthcare reimbursement programs, the inspector general's office said.
Sun filed for bankruptcy in October 1999 and expects to complete its reorganization under Chapter 11 by year-end.
The Justice Department continues to negotiate a settlement of its charges against Sun, although government officials did not reveal the nature of the allegations against the company.
In 1998, another nursing home chain, Beverly Enterprises, Fort Smith, Ark., was accused of overstating the nursing labor-cost allocation on its Medicare cost reports. Beverly and its California subsidiary paid a total of $175 million to settle both criminal and civil claims, and Beverly was forced, as part of the settlement, to sell 10 nursing homes.
Nursing home chain Vencor, Louisville, Ky., was accused of double-billing Medicare in a 1997 whistleblower lawsuit. The company and its landlord and former corporate sibling, Ventas, settled the charges for $104.5 million in March.
Sun agreed to hire independent quality monitors, chosen by the inspector general's office, to assess the care of residents, the company's response to quality-of-care issues that arise, its policies and procedures, and the accuracy of internal reports, the office said. Sun operates 250 long-term- and post-acute-care facilities in the U.S.