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medicare theft

Four Chicago Nursing Facilities Caught Up in Medicare Fraud Whistleblower Case

Some Chicago nursing homes and rehabilitation centers are paying nearly $10 million back to the U.S. government after being caught lying about the level of care their patients required and for violating the False Claims Act by overbilling federal health insurers. Greed came through by abusing power over resident benefits paid for through Medicare and maximizing those amounts under fraudulent therapies and support.

At the center of the fraud sat Quality Therapy and Consultation Inc. of Orland Park, and its owner, Frances Parise. Parise allegedly worked with these four Chicago facilities.

On Wednesday, the United States Senate Committee on Finance held a public hearing entitled “Not Forgotten: Protecting Americans From Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes.” The hearing included statements from adult children of nursing home residents who were the victims of rape, abuse, and neglect at the hands of their caretakers.

Letter Describes How Recent Government Actions Endanger Nursing Home Residents

Prior to the hearing, six long term care advocacy organizations banded together to send a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance to remind them of the government’s recent actions that have scaled back protections for those in nursing homes.

On Thursday, a bill that aims to guarantee the essential American right to a trial by jury is being introduced in Washington. The bill, named the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR Act) and introduced in the House by Rep. Hank Johnson (GA) and in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT), would eliminate arbitration clauses often found in consumer, patient, and employee agreements. Arbitration agreements take away our Constitutional right to a trial by jury and now begins our chance to finally have a voice in getting rid of these agreements that are nothing more than a strong arm tactic used by those who have all the power.

Why You Should Care About Arbitration

Arbitration is a process in which a wronged person must air their grievances in a private, closed room with an arbitrator instead of in a court room with a judge and jury. Arbitrators, unlike judges, are selected by those demanding the agreement and studies have proved their tendency to choose an outcome that heavily favors the offender. In other words, if you find yourself forced into arbitration, you’ll likely leave the process without having things made right.

“This case goes to the heart of protecting the unprotected. Evidence shows these nurses forced the victims to endure awful mistreatment and then lied about it.”

-Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

7 employees from a Columbus nursing home have been indicted in Ohio on criminal charges of involuntary manslaughter and patient neglect after failing to provide interventions to help prevent and treat bedsores that led to one patient’s death, as well as actions that led to serious injuries in another. The first patient ultimately died from septic shock, the result of an overwhelming systemic infection caused by untreated wounds. In total, 34 criminal charges have been pressed against the employees, the majority related to one patient’s death and several resulting from serious neglect of a second.

chicago nursing home attorney
The Langham Hotel in downtown Chicago was the beautiful, wintry backdrop for the Society of Trial Lawyers 84th Annual Black Tie Dinner Dance this past Saturday. Over 200 guests were in attendance to honor their shared love of the law, as well as their respect for our jury system and for each other, despite often finding themselves on opposing sides. The Society of Trial Lawyers is an invite-only organization of Illinois Trial Lawyers. Members are among the most established, respected, and successful trial lawyers, representing just 1% of the 1% of attorneys who are trial lawyers.

Levin & Perconti founding partner Steve Levin serves as the group’s president and in a heartfelt speech told the crowd that the processes of arbitration and mediation are no more than a business and that “juries are the most literal embodiment of a representative democracy. They are of the people, by the people, for the people. As Thomas Jefferson said, ‘The government closest to the people, serves the people best.'”

Levin also addressed the need for trial lawyers to mentor the younger generation by warmly welcoming them, encouraging them to fight for the truth, and to lead by example. He asked the attendees to do this by modeling respect for not only the trial process, but also for their own clients, opposing counsel and their clients. Steve also called on all attorneys to “be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.”

In a survey of 978 people with a family member in a nursing home, Care.com found that the decision to send a loved one to a nursing home was a ‘difficult one’ for 71% of survey participants.

Over a quarter of respondents reported their feelings towards their loved one’s care in a nursing home as either “dissatisfied” or “neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.”

The survey also asked respondents to describe how often they visited their loved one in a nursing home and what prevented them from being able to visit more often. The majority of respondents (57%) said their job was the primary reason they were unable to spend more time with a family member in a nursing home.

Earlier this month, our blog covered the story of a 29 year-old-woman in a vegetative state who had given birth to a baby boy on December 29th. The woman is a longtime resident of Hacienda Healthcare just outside Phoenix, previously falsely reported as admitted to the facility after a near drowning incident as a teenager. Instead, the woman’s family has clarified that she is nonverbal and is intellectually disabled as a result of seizures that began as a toddler. Although she is nonverbal, she is able to move her extremities and head and neck, and can show emotion through facial expressions.

This morning, Phoenix police announced that they had arrested Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old male nurse who had been an employee of the facility and was responsible for providing nursing care to the victim. He has been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse after he was found to be a DNA match to the infant boy. Police required genetic testing of every male employee of Hacienda after the victim gave birth and although Sutherland initially attempted to forgo testing, he was ultimately forced by police to cooperate.

Sutherland become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in 2011 and it appears that Hacienda has been his sole employer since becoming an LPN. Prior to receiving his nursing certification, he worked as a nurse aide for 6 years. Earlier today, Hacienda released a statement that Sutherland was immediately fired upon learning of the DNA match, also saying that Sutherland went through a background check prior to being hired. Hacienda has publicly apologized for the incident, promising to follow more robust hiring and training practices.

Recent reports out of Pennsylvania regarding a push for investigations into suspicious deaths of nursing home and assisted living residents have compelled our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys to revisit the law here in Cook County regarding nursing home deaths.

All eyes in the elder rights and nursing home abuse law profession have been on Pennsylvania, as the former largest nursing home chain, Golden Living Centers, has become the subject of a lawsuit filed by the PA state attorney general. The lawsuit alleges  poor care, records falsification, failure to prevent insect infestations, poor infection management of residents, and other forms of abuse and neglect that have led to resident injuries and death.

The struggling nursing home chain eventually sold off all of its Pennsylvania locations to different owners. A November 2018 Penn Live investigation called “Still Failing the Frail” found that the majority of the former Golden Living nursing homes are cited as much or more often than they were before the sale, indicating that despite a change of hands, nothing has gotten better at these facilities.

A 29-year-old woman in a vegetative state has given birth to a baby boy in a Phoenix-area nursing home. The woman, a confirmed member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, has lived in a vegetative state since she was 15 and nearly drowned. The birth was a complete surprise to staff, not only because her condition makes her unable to consent or engage in sexual activity, but because they were completely unaware of her pregnancy until she went into labor.

Through their lawyer, the woman’s family released a statement, saying in part “The family is obviously outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda Healthcare.”

Facility Has Persistent Low Ratings, but Promises to Take Accountability for Rape

People with mental health conditions that impact their ability to make decisions cannot consent to sexual relations. To allow elderly residents with dementia to engage in intimate relations in a nursing home under the guise that it is “consensual,” and in some respects promote it as a policy, is inexcusable.

An Illinois appellate court has sided with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on their decision to heavily fine an Illinois nursing home for a policy that allowed residents with dementia to engage in sexual relationships.

Generations at Neighbors in Byron, IL previously allowed residents with dementia or other cognitive difficulties to have intimate relations with fellow residents, provided that the interactions seemed consensual. CMS, citing this policy as an Immediate Jeopardy violation, fined the facility $83,000. Immediate Jeopardy citations are reserved for those “situations in which the provider’s noncompliance with one or more requirements of participation has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury, harm, impairment or death to a resident.”

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