Monday, December 06, 2010

Health & Hospital Corporation's Nursing Home Operator Fined $376,000

The Star's Tim Evans reports on a more than $376,000 fine levied against American Senior Communities ("ASC"), the large nursing home chain that operates nursing homes owned by the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County. ASC was cited for employing persons ineligible to work at nursing homes receiving Medicaid funding and failure to self-report according to Evans.

An Indiana nursing home operator will pay $376,432 in penalties to settle a complaint that it employed seven workers who were ineligible to received funds under federal rules.

American Senior Communities’ nursing homes include ones owned by the public agency that runs the Marion County Health Department and Wishard Memorial Hospital.

The Indiana Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, a division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, called the problem to the attention of the federal Office of the Inspector General in spring 2009.

The penalties were levied based on an allegation that ASC employed seven people in its Indiana nursing homes who were excluded from participation in federal health care programs, said Steve Solomon, a deputy in the office of counsel to the Inspector General.

The fine was larger than many others levied in similar cases because the alleged infractions were not self-reported by ASC.
During last year's referendum on the new Wishard Hospital, I reported on how the Health & Hospital Corporation has an arrangement with ASC whereby it purchases nursing homes and then leases them to ASC to operate on its behalf. As a government agency providing disproportionate indigent care, the nursing homes operated by ASC on behalf of HHC receive reimbursement rates nearly double that paid to other nursing home operators. This scheme provides a revenue stream HHC is tapping to pay approximately $700 million in bonded indebtedness it is incurring to build a new county hospital. If the federal government ever disallowed this funding arrangement in the future, HHC would be forced to levy new property taxes on Marion County property owners to pay for the new hospital. I also reported on how the level of care provided at these nursing homes wasn't all that it was cracked up to be according to HHC's CEO Matt Gutwein. The Star dismissed the concerns I raised then, but after the referendum was approved, it reported on quality care issues with the HHC nursing homes run by ASC.

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