- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2005

One of the area’s largest nonprofit home health care providers has agreed to pay the federal government more than $1.3 million to end an investigation into its Medicare billing practices.

The agreement, approved this month, calls for corporate subsidiaries of MedStar Health Inc. to pay $710,282 to Medicare administrators and $649,718 to the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

MedStar officials did not admit any wrongdoing, but settled the matter “to avoid the uncertainty and expense of litigation,” a copy of the agreement reads.

The settlement, obtained this week by The Washington Times through a Freedom of Information Act request, stated that MedStar Health Visiting Nurse Association Inc. — formerly known as the Visiting Nurse Association of Washington, D.C. — and Visiting Nurse Association Inc. filed questionable Medicare cost reports between 1998 and 2000.

Federal regulators from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) questioned reimbursements related to printing, rental costs, medical supplies and contract employees, documents showed. CMS is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

MedStar also has agreed to a “corporate integrity agreement” with the Health and Human Services Department. The agreement calls for an outside review of company billing practices and for employees to receive training on how to comply with federal reimbursement programs.

MedStar Health Visiting Nurse Association Inc. and Visiting Nurse Association Inc. are subsidiaries of Columbia-based MedStar Health, which also runs Washington Hospital Center, Georgetown University Hospital and the National Rehabilitation Hospital in the District.

Regulators questioned reports detailing expenses that were “not provided as claimed and/or were false or fraudulent,” the agreement read.

Federal officials declined to comment on the matter yesterday. MedStar officials said the company did nothing improper.

“The dispute was in regard to documentation,” MedStar spokeswoman Erika Murray said. “The purpose of the settlement was to resolve certain disputed items with the government related to a cost report from 1998 to 2000. Now that it has been settled, MedStar Visiting Nurse Association will continue to operate our program to ensure we meet federal health care program requirements.”

Miss Murray also said the federal audit concerned “one component of the Visiting Nurse Association, not the entire system.”

MedStar Health Visiting Nurse Association provided services to more than 18,500 patients in the Washington metropolitan area, making more than 237,000 home visits, according to its 2003 tax return.

The same tax return said the company was among the top-scoring home care agencies in the Baltimore-Washington area based on reviews compiled by CMS.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide