Both The Chicago Tribune and The Indianapolis Star had articles about the for-profit company, American Senior Communities, paying $376,432 in penalties to settle a complaint that it employed seven workers who were ineligible under federal rules for reasons including the loss of licenses and a criminal conviction. American Senior Communities is one of Indiana’s largest nursing home operators and operates a chain of nursing homes owned by the public agency that runs the Marion County Health Department and Wishard Memorial Hospital.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a release that the settlement will enhance safety in Indiana nursing homes and help control government health-care costs. 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.
ASC employed seven people in its Indiana nursing homes who were excluded from participation in federal health-care programs. ASC received federal payments for the work of the individuals when it "knew or should have known" they were excluded and that ASC should not collect federal reimbursement for their services.
"The settlement that American Senior Communities LLC of Indianapolis agreed to pay is the largest settlement agreement the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has received in a Medicaid excluded-provider case to date," the release said.
Reasons for an employee or contractor being excluded from the federal program can range from convictions for serious criminal offenses to losing a professional license.
It is the responsibility of health-care providers to regularly check lists of excluded workers and contractors.