As a Pennsylvania nursing home lawyer, I was extremely interested to see an announcement of arrests in a major alleged Medicare fraud ring involving nursing home care. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the FBI announced in late March that it had arrested five nurses at Home Care Hospice Inc. of Philadelphia, a for-profit hospice. Those arrested, all of greater Philadelphia, include Patricia McGill, the hospice’s director of professional services; and nurses Natalya Schvets, Giorgi Oqroshidze, Yevgeniya Goltman and Alexsandr Koptyakov. Those arrests followed the October arrest of HCH’s co-owner, Matthew Kolodesh, In all, the defendants are accused of submitting $9.32 million in fraudulent Medicare claims, for patients who weren’t eligible for hospice care or who received less care than was billed for them.
According to the Business Journal, the now-defunct HCH provided hospice care for patients from nursing homes, private homes and hospitals. However, the FBI believes employees conspired to admit ineligible or inappropriate patients between 2005 and 2008. The four nurses McGill supervised are accused of creating fraudulent nursing notes for about 150 patients, in support of Medicare bills for services never provided; other notes reflected a higher level of care than actually provided. Those notes were submitted by McGill and an unindicted hospice director called A.P., for a total of $9.328 million in false Medicare claims. When HCH was notified of a claims review audit, McGill and A.P. reviewed and altered charts where necessary to support the false documents. After the audit required HCH to refund $2.625 million to the federal government, McGill and A.P. asked the staff to discharge hospice patients; 128 were discharged over four to five months, but often moved to another hospice owned by Kolodesh. Within six months, about 20 percent of those discharged were returned to HCH.
Unfortunately, this kind of news about a for-profit nursing business does not surprise me as a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer. I recently wrote about an article exposing exactly this kind of fraud in for-profit hospice care, and it’s easy to see the parallels with for-profit nursing home care. With hospice care, the goal is to make patients comfortable at the end of life, but fraudulently included patients often aren’t at the end of life. That means they may be inappropriately given powerful painkillers or other drugs, and that they and their families may suffer emotionally from believing they are near death. That belief may also lead patients to abandon future plans and squander the time they do have in expensive full-time care they don’t need — another form of Pennsylvania nursing home abuse. As a Philadelphia injury lawyer, I believe all of these injuries can and should be penalized when appropriate, including through a lawsuit.
If you believe abuse, neglect or other negligence at a nursing home is responsible for an injury or death in your family, Rosenbaum & Associates can help. For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call us today at 1-800-7-LEGAL-7 or send us a message through our website.
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