Vanguard’s Nursing Facilities Earned Big Profits While Providing “Grossly Substandard Care”
The United States filed a False Claims Act (FCA) complaint against six Vanguard nursing facilities and Vanguard’s Director of Operations, Mark Miller. The complaint alleges that the facilities failed to provide the most basic and essential skilled nursing services to their residents, such as administering prescribed medications, providing wound care as ordered by physicians, and managing residents’ pain. The complaint further alleges that Vanguard residents were subjected to unnecessary physical restraints and medically unnecessary and excessive psychotropic medications. As a result, Vanguard residents suffered pressure ulcers, falls, dehydration and malnutrition, among other harms.
In a press release issued by the Department of Justice, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the DOJ’s Civil Division Benjamin C. Mizer said: “Our seniors rely on the Medicare and Medicaid programs to help care for them with dignity and respect. It is critically important that we confront nursing home operators who put their own economic gain over the needs of their residents. Operators who bill Medicare and Medicaid while failing to provide essential services will be held accountable.” In addition, a U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee David Rivera stated: “We are committed to combating elderly abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. We will continue to hold accountable those who profit from the care of elderly Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, including nursing home operators, while providing non-existent or grossly substandard care.”
This case illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud. The lawsuit was filed under the FCA, which is the government’s primary tool in recovering funds fraudulently obtained from federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The FCA is mostly known for its "qui tam" provisions, which allow private citizens, commonly called whistleblowers, to bring suit in the name of the government, and to be paid an award from recovered funds. In 2014 and 2015, the Health Care fraud cases accounted for $4.4 Bn in FCA recoveries.
About Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP
Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP focuses on complex civil litigation, including securities, antitrust, consumer class actions, shareholder derivative litigation and whistleblower (Qui Tam) litigation. The firm is headquartered in New York, and maintains offices in California, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Since its founding in 1995, Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP has served as lead or co-lead counsel in numerous high-profile cases which ultimately provided significant recoveries to investors, consumers and employees.
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About T. Talyana Bromberg
Talyana Bromberg is a partner in Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP’s Pennsylvania office and chair of its False Claims Litigation group. Ms. Bromberg focuses her practice on representing whistleblowers in Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases, educational, financial, tax, defense contractors’ fraud and matters involving bribery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Ms. Bromberg was a lead attorney representing whistleblower Ronald Streck in the lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, Cephalon, Inc., and Biogen Inc. relating to underpayment of Medicaid rebates, with a settlement totaling $55.5 million. She represented whistleblowers in pharmaceutical lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories related to off-label promotion and payment of kickbacks for anti-seizure drug Depakote that resulted in a $1.6 billion settlement; against GlaxoSmithKline related to unlawful marketing tactics and kickbacks for GSK drug Advair for a $1.04 billion settlement; and against Pfizer for alleged illegal promotion of its kidney transplant drug Rapamune, resulting in $257 million settlement.
The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to sue those who commit fraud against the government and to receive between 15 and 30 percent of the recovered funds. The law covers fraud involving any government-funded contract or program, including Medicare, Medicaid, military, transportation, housing, educational, agricultural, or other program. Separate IRS, SEC and CFTC whistleblower programs cover federal tax fraud, securities and commodities fraud. Since 1986, whistleblowers have helped the government to recover more than $40 billion by bringing lawsuits under the federal and state False Claims Acts.