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Nursing facility settles federal case over poor care, inflated billing

Cropped shot of a senior woman sitting with her hands clasped in a nursing home.

It’s been more than 10 years since allegations of wrongdoing first surfaced, but SavaSeniorCare has finally settled its federal case involving nursing home abuse and neglect

SavaSeniorCare has agreed to pay $11.2 million to move past claims that the agency provided substandard care and inflated billing in the pursuit of bigger profits. In addition to the settlement, Sava has agreed to have an independent monitor review the quality of its care.  

The Atlanta-based company operates nursing homes in 15 states and has around the same number of rehabilitation centers in Georgia. 

In the greater Atlanta region, SavaSeniorCare operates:

  • Dunwoody Health and Rehabilitation Center, Atlanta
  • Sandy Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center, Atlanta
  • Roselane Health and Rehabilitation Center, Marietta
  • Anderson Mill Health and Rehabilitation Center, Austell
  • Brian Center Health & Rehabilitation, Canton
  • Glenwood Health and Rehabilitation Center, Decatur
  • North Decatur Health and Rehabilitation Center, Decatur
  • Briarwood Health and Rehabilitation Center, Tucker
  • Bentley Square, Tucker

While the company has agreed to the settlement, it denies the whistleblower charges that kicked off the investigation.

In a statement, Sava said that they agreed to pay the settlement because it will cost less than keeping up the fight. 

“We believe it is the right time to put these matters behind us as we begin to recover from the pandemic,” the company said. 

In the U.S., there are about 74.6 million people on Medicaid at a combined federal and state cost of more than $600 billion per year. 

What happened: Nursing home abuse and neglect

Allegations against Sava were first filed under the False Claims Act in 2008. The whistleblowers claimed that patients were being given treatments they didn’t need and held at facilities longer than necessary in order to boost revenue from Medicaid. 

They were also accused of providing poor care to residents and other patients. This lack of quality led to excessive falls and ulcers. They also allegedly failed to correctly provide medication to some patients.

This wasn’t just a Georgia issue. Claims of poor care and inflated billing were made at facilities across the country.

New and improved medical billing

In order to prevent nursing homes from exploiting Medicaid and Medicare, the government changed its reimbursement policy in 2019 to the “patient-driven payment model.” The policy only applies to “skilled nursing facilities,” otherwise known as nursing homes.

Under the new method, nursing homes are not rewarded for providing an overabundance of specialized care. There are elder care advocates who worry this may mean some patients will not get all of the care they need because it won’t be cost-effective for nursing homes. 

The national change in nursing home billing highlights the fact that Sava wasn’t the only care center accused of wrongdoing. Other elder care companies that recently agreed to settle charges of fraud and/or abuse include:

  • Longwood Management
  • Saber Healthcare
  • Guardian Elder Care Holdings
  • Signature Healthcare
  • Life Care Centers of America
  • Kindred/RehabCare

So far, LifeCare Centers of America has agreed to the largest settlement — $145 million. 

Overall, the industry has paid billions of dollars to settle claims that they put residents at risk for financial gain. Fraud charges included phantom billing, double billing, billing for unnecessary goods, and providing kickbacks in exchange for unused drugs or medical records.  

In 2020 alone, the federal Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) recovered $1 billion through convictions and settlements. 

Call a Georgia nursing home abuse lawyer if you need help

It’s not always easy to spot when a loved one isn't being properly cared for or is being taken advantage of by nursing home staff.

However, there are signs, including:

  • Bedsores
  • Depression and/or unusual changes in behavior
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Malnutrition
  • Emotional withdrawal
  • Unpaid bills and/or missing money (a.k.a., financial exploitation)
  • Infected wounds

You deserve to know the truth and demand answers if you think your parent, grandparent, child, or someone else that you love could be being abused or neglected by a nursing home, elder care center, or assisted living facility. 

When your loved one is suffering from substandard care, you are unlikely to get a straight answer out of the nursing home in which they reside. That's why you need an experienced and aggressive attorney who knows how to investigate nursing homes and can find the evidence you need to hold them accountable.

At The Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC, we know how to get to the bottom of what’s going on at the nursing home with your loved one. We are relentless in fact-finding and holding people who mistreat the elderly responsible for their actions.  

Contact us in Decatur today for a free case evaluation to see how an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help you. We proudly serve clients in the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia.

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