The federal government has jumped into three lawsuits alleging that skilled-nursing chain SavaSeniorCare billed Medicare for medically unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services.
SavaSeniorCare is headquartered in Atlanta and operates 200 skilled-nursing facilities in 23 states, according to court documents.
"We believe that the care and services we provided to our patients during this period was reasonable and necessary and we intend to aggressively defend our position," Sava said in an emailed statement.
The government alleges the chain pressured its facilities to meet unrealistic financial goals, leading those facilities to provide medically unreasonable, unnecessary and unskilled services to Medicare beneficiaries. SavaSeniorCare also allegedly kept patients in its facilities longer than medically necessary to grab more Medicare dollars.
The three lawsuits were originally filed by whistle-blowers, all former employees at SavaSeniorCare facilities. Under the False Claims Act, whistle-blowers are entitled to a percentage of whatever money the government recovers. When the government joins whistle-blower lawsuits, as it has done in this case, the whistle-blower's chances of receiving money often increase.
Those found liable in False Claims Act cases can be compelled to pay three times the government's losses, plus civil penalties.
The government's announcement of its intervention in the SavaSeniorCare cases follows a similar federal decision to join several lawsuits against nursing home chain HCR ManorCare earlier this year. In those cases, the government also alleged the company pressured employees to meet unrealistic financial goals, leading to unnecessary services given to Medicare and Tricare patients. The government further alleged in that case that ManorCare delayed thedischarge of patients who were medically ready to leave their facilities.
HCR ManorCare said the allegations are “unjust, and we will vigorously defend ourselves in court.”