DOJ Reaches Settlement with Nursing Home Provider Based on Alleged Abuse of COVID-19 Waiver

Last week, DOJ and the State of California reached a $7,084,000 settlement with a California-based nursing home chain and two executives for allegedly misusing a pandemic-era waiver program by routinely submitting claims to Medicare for nursing home residents that did not have a qualifying prior hospital stay.  This settlement is noteworthy because it is one of the first FCA settlements involving alleged abuse of this particular Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) COVID-19 waiver.  See United States and State of California ex rel. Bay Area Whistleblower Partners v. Renew Health Group, LLC, No. 2:20-cv-09472-CBM-AS (C.D. Cal. Oct. 14, 2020).

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DOJ’s First “Cyber-Fraud” Settlement Targets Healthcare Provider

Yesterday DOJ announced its first settlement under the Department’s new “Cyber-Fraud Initiative.”  This initiative, announced in October 2021, aims to “utilize the False Claims Act to pursue cybersecurity related fraud by government contractors and grant recipients.”  However, as discussed further here, in addition to targeting traditional government contractors, the initiative presents broader opportunities for DOJ to use the FCA to address data protection practices by healthcare providers.

The healthcare industry is consistently the recipient of disproportionate oversight under the FCA, and thus it is perhaps no surprise that DOJ’s first settlement under the Cyber-Fraud Initiative was with a healthcare provider.  As announced here, a healthcare provider furnishing medical services on air force bases paid $930,000 to resolve allegations that it “violated the False Claims Act by falsely representing to the State Department and the Air Force that it complied with contract requirements relating to the provision of medical services.”  The settlement also resolved allegations relating to controlled substances. (more…)