The Clarion Ledger reported the $1.25 million settlement between U.S. Department of Justice and Hyperion for allegations of false Medicare and Medicaid claims for “grossly substandard care” at a Lumberton nursing home. The government alleges that from October 2005 to May 2012, Hyperion made claims to Medicare and Medicaid for providing effectively worthless services to the nursing home residents. The poor quality care caused the facility’s residents to suffer pressure ulcers, falls, dehydration and malnutrition, among other physical, mental and emotional harms, the government says.
Hyperion Foundation, a Georgia not-for-profit entity (Hyperion), Julie Mittleider, Hyperion’s former president, AltaCare Corp., a Georgia corporation engaged in nursing home management, Douglas Mittleider, AltaCare’s chief executive officer, Long Term Care Services Inc. and Sentry Healthcare Acquirors Inc., and others have agreed to pay the settlement for alleged substandard care to residents at the Oxford Health and Rehabilitation nursing home in Lumberton. The nursing home was operated from late 2005 through mid-2012 by AltaCare, under a contract with Hyperion.
For example, the United States alleges that Hyperion failed to meet the nutritional needs of residents, failed to administer medications to residents as prescribed by their physicians, over-medicated residents, hired insufficient staff to care for them and diverted Medicare and Medicaid funds to other entities affiliated with Douglas or Julie Mittleider, leaving the facility unable to pay for its basic operations, including food, heat, air conditioning, pest control and cleaning.
“When operators of nursing homes harm our most vulnerable citizens and break the law by defrauding our government for grossly substandard or worthless services, we will bring to bear all the resources of the federal Government in order to rectify these terrible actions,” Southern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said in the news release. “I commend our attorneys and investigators for resolving this travesty with one of the largest healthcare fraud settlements involving a single nursing home. We will continue the Department of Justice’s long-standing commitment to protecting the elderly.”
The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government for the submission of false claims and share in any recovery. The False Claims Act authorizes the United States to intervene and take over primary responsibility for the action, as it did in this case. The amount to be recovered by the private whistleblower has not been determined.