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Updated: 5:13 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 | Posted: 3:22 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013

Metro Atlanta nursing home chain settles fraud claims

By Christopher Seward

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The operator of several nursing homes in metro Atlanta has agreed to pay more than a half-million dollars to settle state and federal claims that it billed the government for inadequate care.

GGNSC Holdings of Plano, Texas, which operates several Golden LivingCenters in the Atlanta area, has not admitted any wrongdoing and has not been found liable, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which along with the state of Georgia accused the company of placing patients’ health at risk in caring for wounds between 2006 and 2011.

In a statement, Golden LivingCenters said it “steadfastly denies that patients were harmed” and said the allegations involved a small number of patients at two locations.

“We are committed to quality patient care, and we are proud of the care we provide at our Atlanta LivingCenters,” President and CEO Neil Kurtz said. He also said the “appropriateness of our patient treatments and services has been validated in multiple surveys by state and federal agencies.”

An investigation of the nursing home chain followed a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Dr. Joseph Micca in 2010. Micca is expected to receive a share of the $613,300 GGNSC has agreed to pay, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Golden Living fraudulently billed Medicaid for nursing services which were substandard and, tragically, resulted in harm to patients,” state Attorney General Sam Olens said in a joint statement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “The nursing home patients depended on Golden Living to provide them with quality wound care services to help them heal, but, instead, were mistreated. We will not stand for such egregious misconduct by a Medicaid provider.”

The facilities were accused of providing “inadequate and worthless monitoring, documentation and prevention and treatment of wounds” from Jan. 1 2006 through May 31, 2011.

In addition to billing Medicaid, the company allegedly also fraudulently billed Medicare and the Veterans Administration for services at its Golden LivingCenter–Glenwood and Golden LivingCenter–Dunwoody facilities. The latter was formerly Golden LivingCenter–Northside.

GGNSC has agreed to improve its patient care with new policies and procedures, and its metro Atlanta locations will submit to independent monitoring for up to five years. Other metro locations include Golden LivingCenter–Briarwood, Golden LivingCenter–Decatur, Golden LivingCenter–Kennestone and Golden LivingCenter–Medical Arts.

“Golden Living agreed to the settlement not to dignify these baseless charges, but because we would rather spend the money on our patient care and staff than on the legal fees necessary each month simply to respond to the government’s actions in the investigation,” said Kurtz, the company’s CEO.

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