National Nursing Home Chain, Life Care Centers of America, Accused of Billing for Excess Care

(CBS News) Each year, Americans spend hundreds of billions of dollars on unnecessary medical tests and treatments. It’s one reason why health care costs are so high.

 In recent months, “CBS This Morning” has been looking into the rehab practices of Life Care Centers of America. It is the third largest nursing home chain in the country, with more than 30,000 beds in 28 states.

 Half-a-dozen former employees tell “CTM” that the company is giving patients rehab they don’t need, and billing the government for money they’re not entitled to.

“The mission statement that they have is no longer true, which is to serve their residents in a Christian based atmosphere,” says Helen Toomey, a former assistant manager and speech therapist at the company’s Plymouth, Mass., facility.

 Among other services, Life Care provides speech and physical therapy. But Toomey, who worked at multiple Life Care locations between 1998 and 2012, says by the time she left, 40 percent of the work she was being told to administer was not reasonable or necessary. “They felt that no one was watching them and so every patient that came through the building they could charge the highest rate of reimbursement, regardless of their diagnosis or need.”

 Toomey says it got so bad that she resigned. But on her way out, she took some patient notes with her. She says they show how Life Care would not let patients leave, so the company could continue to bill Medicare. On Dec. 30, 2011, for example, they indicate that Toomey tried to discharge four patients. All four of those requests were denied. She provided a copy of the notes to “CTM.”

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