A woman who formerly worked as an occupational therapy assistant for Aegis Therapies, Inc., a subsidiary of Beverly Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: BEV), has gotten the go-ahead from a federal judge in St. Paul, Minn. to begin gathering evidence to support her allegations that her former company has been submitting false Medicare and Medicaid claims for years, reports the Star Tribune.
The whistleblower is Ricia Johnson, who used to work for Aegis Therapies, the nation’s largest nursing home operator and contract physical therapy company, at Golden LivingCenter-Hillcrest of Wayzata.
It’s uncertain how much money’s at stake. If the case is limited to alleged billings at Hillcrest, it could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. But if the plaintiffs are allowed to pursue similar allegations at the defendants’ other facilities nationwide, it could be many times that, said Jonathan Bye, an attorney with Linquist & Vennum in Minneapolis representing the plaintiffs.
Johnson and her current employer, Health Dimensions Rehabilitation, filed the case on behalf of the government, but if they’re successful they would stand to share in any judgment.
The defendants are represented by Tom Heffelfinger, a former U.S. attorney for Minnesota who now heads the white-collar criminal and regulatory defense practice at Best & Flanagan. He declined to comment on the suit, but said his clients will vigorously defend themselves against what he called “meritless allegations.”
Aegis would bill the government for services that weren’t actually being provided, according to Johnson’s allegations, reports the Star Tribune. It would also bill for group therapy that didn’t qualify for reimbursement. The suit further alleges that the company engaged in similar practices at several other locations.
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Written by Alyssa Gerace