Elvis Presley made the lyrics “Please release me, let me go” famous in the 1960’s. Some New York nursing home residents may have been singing that song much more recently. The New York State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit last week says it stopped a nursing home chain that was holding patients against their will.
According to a government media release, the state’s Medicaid Fraud Unit settled with a nursing home chain that delayed the discharge of some elderly patients even though they were well enough to go home. Apparently, the company kept the patients in an effort to collect more Medicaid funds.
The company, Elant Inc., owns a chain of six nursing homes in New York. In December, the company agreed to pay $600,000 to settle the charges. As part of the agreement, two administrators have been banned from the industry and the company was forced to admit that it “postponed” the discharge of some elderly patients who were well enough to leave. Some of the patients had wanted to go home but were apparently told they couldn’t be discharged.
The company also admitted shuffling patients to one of its facilities that needed more revenue.
Elant apparently had trouble finding enough patients to fill their facilities. The state’s investigation revealed that management was constantly pressuring employees to delay discharges. One email from management said “As can be seen from this morning’s census report, we are down across the system. Please manage your census this week and whatever discharges can be avoided, please do so. Residents and families can be very obstinate.” [The term “census” refers to the daily patient headcount.]
Another manager was more blunt, “We are really holding these people against their will.”
In some cases, the state says that Elant even provided services that were not medically necessary.
In announcing the settlement, N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “Nursing homes must not put their own financial interests above those of their residents – patients who rely on them for their care and treatment – and New York taxpayers. All nursing home residents have a right to accurate and complete information about their options. Indeed, they need that information to make informed decisions about their care.”
Medicaid is funded with tax dollars. When a company, physician or nursing home commits Medicaid, they are stealing from taxpayers. It is certainly not a victimless crime. In addition to the economic losses, some folks were apparently unable to go home and enjoy their lives.
Few people want to be in nursing homes. Some of Elant’s patients were lucky enough to recover and be able to go home. Their discharge and their ability to be reunited with loved ones was apparently delayed solely so the nursing home could make a few extra dollars.
The FBI has declared Medicare fraud to be a national epidemic. The Medicare program garners much of the media attention but state level Medicaid fraud is a huge problem as well.
Medicaid Fraud and Cash Awards for Whistleblowers
Some states such as New York have a False Claims Act law that allows whistleblowers to collect a percentage of whatever the government gets from wrongdoers. (The feds have a similar law for Medicare.)
Whistleblowers who report Medicaid fraud in these states can earn up to 30% of whatever the government collects. Most states have strong anti-retaliation laws that can protect whistleblowers who step forward. (Medicaid fraud lawsuits are typically filed under seal meaning they are secret while being investigated by the state. That means more time for the whistleblower to find alternate employment should they fear retaliation.)
Corporate greed is rampant. Whistleblowers are the best defense against this fraud and greed. Our job is to help them collect the maximum possible award. To date our whistleblower clients have collected over $100 million in awards!
Want to learn more? Visit our Medicare and Medicaid fraud resources page or simply give us a call. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept strictly confidential. The author of this post, attorney Brian Mahany, can be reached at or by phone at (414) 704-6731 (direct).
MahanyLaw – America’s Medicaid and Medicare Fraud Lawyers