Atlanta-based SavaSeniorCare agrees to pay $11M in False Claims case

Nursing home operator was accused of bilking Medicare

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

SavaSeniorCare, one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, will pay $11.2 million to resolve a long-running federal case alleging that Sava improperly billed Medicare for rehab services and “grossly substandard” skilled nursing services.

Sava’s nationwide operation includes 15 senior care facilities in Georgia, according to its website.

“Nursing home operators will be held accountable when they engage in fraudulent schemes and put their own financial gain ahead of the needs of their vulnerable residents,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division on Friday.

The case dates to 2011, when a whistleblower filed a lawsuit accusing the company of violating the federal False Claims Act, followed by two other whistleblower lawsuits with similar allegations.

In 2015, the government intervened in the three suits, accusing Sava of company-wide practices designed to increase Medicare billings that resulted in unnecessary services or delays in the discharge of patients who were ready to be released. Sava was also accused of billing Medicare for substandard care that didn’t meet federal requirements, including failing to have enough staff to properly care for residents.

Sava did not admit to wrongdoing. “We have spent 10 years and several million dollars vigorously defending our position in these cases. As stated in the settlement agreement, we believe that the allegations were unfounded. Nevertheless, the cost of continuing to litigate would have exceeded the settlement payment. We believe it is the right time to put these matters behind us as we begin to recover from the pandemic,” said Annaliese Impink, spokesperson for SavaSeniorCare Administrative and Consulting, LLC.

Sava also entered into a five-year chain-wide Corporate Integrity Agreement with the government and will hire an independent monitor to review the care it provides to residents.