Perhaps There Will Finally be a Day of Reckoning for Nursing Care Owners

Increased Nursing Home Data Reporting Could Bring ‘Perfect Storm’ of Federal Lawsuits

Under regulations instituted as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, skilled nursing facilities are reporting a wealth of information to the federal government — on top of all the information they were required to submit pre-pandemic.

And that information could end up being the guiding light for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), according to a webinar hosted Thursday by the continuing education provider Strafford.

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“Under regulations instituted as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, skilled nursing facilities are reporting a wealth of information to the federal government — on top of all the information they were required to submit pre-pandemic.

And that information could end up being the guiding light for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), according to a webinar hosted Thursday by the continuing education provider Strafford.

The presentation focused on reporting requirements for SNFs, government enforcement actions and compliance, and preparation for enhanced enforcement.”

[Excerpt]

“Is this really the perfect storm, then, for a potential wave of lawsuits initiated by DOJ with a much richer database for targeting facilities with with a record in infection control surveys and IJs [immediate jeopardy deficiencies]?” McGovern asked on the webinar. “Time will tell about that. But it’s not simply DOJ. If DOJ doesn’t take the initiative, whistleblowers can also bring lawsuits under the False Claims Act (FCA) and seek to recover the considerable damages afforded under the FCA.”

FCA cases relate to the conduct of private companies that do business with Medicare, Medicaid, and other public health care funding sources, and generally involve fraud, as Bloomberg noted in September 2019 covering an announcement by the DOJ that it would pursue criminal charges in such cases that involved nursing homes.

Many of the claims that hit nursing homes related to the provision of therapy, such as the $30 million settlement agreed to by the Louisville, Ky.-based Signature HealthCARE, the $15 million settlement from Brockway, Pa.-based Guardian Elder Care, or the saga related to the case of several SNFs and a therapy company that eventually settled for $255 million.

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HHS and the Sheer Stupidity of Giving for-Profit Nursing Homes MORE Money -Covid

OPINION No Amount of Money is Going Incentivize a Morally Bankrupt and Profit Centric Nursing Home Owner/Operator/ Manager to Improve Care to Patients – More Oversight is Required

Whomever thought up the idea that shelling out MORE money to nursing homes, their owners, managers, wealthy entrepreneurs and magnates to reduce Covid-19 numbers doesn’t seem to understand the dynamics of the nursing home industry. In fact, that idea represents an utter and complete disregard for the entire history of the nursing home industry, the coining of money that occurs and the harrowing lack of oversight that lead to Covid-19 deaths.

It was not about a lack of funding for appropriate care. The deaths were caused by greed. The stockpiling of PPE (and respirators) so they could be traded or sold on a secondary market, represented greed.

The obscene amounts of money that has already been given to fabulously wealthy owners, operators and magnates in the form of PPP and EIDL loans has only allowed the wealthy to get wealthier. It has improved nothing else. And, you cannot buy a conscience with that money, which would be what is required to stop improve the quality of life of every individual currently residing in nursing homes and to prevent further death when Covid-19 ravages these homes again.

To many of the owners, operators and managers in for-profit care nursing and rehabilitation centers, a patient represents an equity interest in a financial gain, whether that gain is in the form of Medicare/Medicaid or private insurance, or in the form of a life insurance policy after a patient has died. Nursing care is not about improving the lives for human beings, the vulnerable and the most in need of care and compassion. It is not about preventing a spread of a deadly virus.

For every person who died from Covid-19, the owners, operators and magnates made money on life insurance policies where they didn’t on some other death benefit or healthcare payment. The owners, operators and managers are all but printing money in the basements of some of these homes, coining it. They DO NOT need more money. What they need is oversight.

For many of these nursing home owners, operators, managers and the equity interested individuals, providing additional access to money is like giving an opiate to an addict. You cannot instill in many of these individuals a sense of moral obligation to do right by their patients, clients and families. These people are not morally challenged they are morally bankrupt and the money only feeds into an ability to obtain more equity on human life and death.

If NY Gov. Was Not so Entrenched, He Would Want Nursing Home Investigation

New York GOP renews push for investigation into nursing home deaths


“N.Y. Republicans want answers on nursing home deaths – New York Daily News javascript:false

ALBANY — Republican lawmakers launched a petition drive Wednesday in an effort to push for an investigation into the number of coronavirus deaths in New York State nursing homes.

The petition calls on Democratic leaders to get behind a bill that would spark an independent investigation examining how the state handled the surge in COVID-19 cases among the elderly and what can be done to prepare for a potential second wave of the virus.

N.Y. Republicans want answers on nursing home deaths – New York Daily News javascript:false

“We’re launching this petition drive to harness the power of the citizenry to pressure the Majorities to bring forward bipartisan legislation for an independent investigation to subpoena the Health Department so we can provide a measure of closure to the loved ones of those who died and prevent this from happening again,” said sponsor New York Sen. Jim Tedisco (R-Glenville).

The state has reported more than 6,400 COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes across the state, but critics contend that the number could be significantly higher since the Cuomo administration does not include elder care residents who died in hospitals. Advertisement

Tedisco, Sen. Daphne Jordan (R-Halfmoon) and Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R-Ballston) said the bill would create an independent investigation that would have subpoena power and help the public learn the real numbers of New Yorkers who died from COVID-19 in state-regulated nursing homes.

Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi slammed the petition as a “political stunt” and said that it exposed a recently announced Department of Justice request for information about nursing home deaths as the same.”

To continue reading in the New York Daily News click here.

The Not-so-Fine Rabbi Feiner, Baver and FNR Healthcare

Department of JusticeU.S. Attorney’s OfficeNorthern District of Illinois


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMonday, September 14, 2020

Chicago Nursing Home Executives Charged With Operating Ponzi Scheme

CHICAGO — The owner of a chain of nursing homes and the company’s executive vice president have been charged with fraud for allegedly orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that raised millions of dollars from investors.

ZVI FEINER was the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Skokie-based FNR Healthcare LLC, and EREZ BAVER served as FNR’s Executive Vice President and bookkeeper.  From 2012 to 2017, Feiner and Baver operated a fraud scheme involving the misappropriation of funds raised through the sale of membership interests in companies that Feiner created under the FNR umbrella to purchase and sell nursing homes and assisted living facilities, according to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  The indictment accuses Feiner and Baver of intentionally misleading investors about the financial condition of the companies in order to fraudulently raise funds. 

In reality, the payments of returns to investors were funded through a Ponzi scheme, with Feiner and Baver paying early investors with money raised from later investors, the charges allege.  Feiner and Baver also used investor funds for purposes unrelated to the purchase or acquisition of the healthcare facilities, including for Feiner’s and Baver’s own personal benefit, the indictment states.

The indictment seeks forfeiture from Feiner of $13.56 million, and from Baver of $3.76 million.

The indictment charges Feiner, 50, of Chicago, with ten counts of wire fraud, and Baver, 40, of Chicago, with one count of wire fraud.  Feiner has pleaded not guilty to all counts.  Arraignment for Baver is set for Sept. 16, 2020, at 10:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Martha M. Pacold.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI.  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Chicago provided valuable assistance.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Malizia.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.  The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Attachment(s): Download Feiner and Baver indictmentTopic(s): Financial FraudSecurities, Commodities, & Investment FraudComponent(s): Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)USAO – Illinois, Northern

May the Schwartz, no the Shvantze – Not be the Skyline Nursing Care for you….

Review Care Website, click here.

How Can This Happen?

The above is a small sampling of Joseph Schwartz’s nursing homes and the “star ratings” applied to them. Click the link beneath the image to learn more about each one.

We took a look at some of the homes with 5-star ratings (Highland Manor in Ilinois as an example) and found it a bit puzzling that there were no scores at all in a number of fairly significant areas. This rather curious result lends itself to the question regarding how accurate these scores really are and if they can be reliably reviewed for a family considering placing a family member in this facility.

To review this data click here.

Consider the following question:

How does the government grading system give a nursing home with 35 “substantiated” complaints (Asperian Care Oak Lawn) 4 stars? They were substantiated claims.

How is a nursing home with 35 “substantiated” complaints not fined, compelled to rectify the situation, compelled to provide some sort of justice to families? The complaints take up the span of 8 pages online. It is worth noting, however, that the complaints only run until February of 2016. It is unclear what has happened since and if this information is updated.

Regardless, why is the owner of a nursing home with 35 complaints allowed to open another nursing home? Again, to reiterate, this site may not have been updated to reflect improvements. The complaints run until 2016. But, then, where is the updated information available. Where is the oversight?

The chart posted above speaks for itself. It is a tiny example of the travesty. Yes… he has nursing homes with 5 starts; but if you can’t trust the 4-star rating system (given the complaints that seem to have been ignored) can you really trust the 5 stars?

The Feiner Points for the Elderly – Rosewood Anyone?


FRAUD

Former Rosewood Owner Indicted on 10 Fraud Counts in Nursing Home ‘Ponzi Scheme’

The indictment represents the latest instance of legal trouble for Feiner, whose ownership of the Rosewood Care Centers portfolio resulted in the worst default — $146 million — in the history of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) loan program for health care facilities.

An administrative law judge last summer approved a nearly $1 million penalty against Feiner to resolve claims that the businessman and rabbi failed to file three years’ worth of necessary HUD paperwork associated with the portfolio.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last September sued Feiner and Baver for defrauding investors; in that case, the government accused Feiner of using his position as a Chicagoland religious leader to advance the scheme.

“As such, he exploited those relationships by soliciting members of the Orthodox Jewish community to invest in his scheme,” the SEC wrote. “Baver also solicited investors from this community.”

Mark Yampol, who managed the portfolio of Rosewood locations in Illinois and Missouri, was indicted earlier this summer on a single count of equity skimming related to the portfolio.

The Rosewood default sent shockwaves through the health care lending industry when the New York Times first publicized the incident in June 2019.

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Are the Elderly Really Just Victims of Political Whoring? – Covid-19 and the Lobbyists

The Health Care Lobby Is Trying To Buy Corporate Immunity From Both Parties

By David SirotaWalker BragmanAndrew Perez

A health care lobby group hired Trump’s former lawyer and gave millions to Democrats — now criminal nursing home and hospital execs may get special protections from COVID lawsuits.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday released new legislation that would make New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s corporate immunity statute the law of the land in every state in America — the second time in two months that Senate Republicans have spliced Cuomo’s controversial provision into their proposed coronavirus response legislation.

The GOP’s inclusion of a special liability shield for health care industry executives represents a victory for the powerful New York lobby group that has been paying Donald Trump’s former lawyer to directly lobby the White House on its behalf — and that has been been funneling millions of dollars to congressional Democrats during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to federal records reviewed by Too Much Information (TMI).

In April, the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) drafted the original provision shielding health care industry officials from COVID-related lawsuits, and pushed it through the New York legislature with the support of Cuomo, whose political machine received more than $1 million from the group. Opponents charged that the law repealed a critical deterrent to corporate misbehavior and effectively rewarded executives at nursing homes where thousands of elderly residents were killed by the coronavirus.

Under pressure, New York lawmakers subsequently limited the scope of the liability shield in their state. However, GNYHA’s president last month told state legislators that his organization was pushing a national version of the legislation in Washington, where it has spent $1.2 million on lobbying this year.

In July, the Senate GOP included the same health care executive immunity language in their broader COVID-related stimulus proposal. McConnell’s new legislation shows that GNYHA’s sustained lobbying campaign has continued to pay off: The Republican leader copy and pasted the New York law into the so-called “skinny” coronavirus relief legislation his office released yesterday.

Bill Reflects Push From Trump as GNYHA Employs Trump’s Former Lawyer

cConnell’s new legislation reflects the Trump administration’s push for a liability shield at the same time that GNYHA has hired Trump’s former lawyer and prolific GOP fundraiser Albert Pirro Jr as a Washington lobbyist.

Pirro is a long-time personal friend of the president — their relationship began thirty years ago when Trump hired him as a real estate attorney. He is the ex-husband of Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro and was once sentenced to twenty-nine months in federal prison for tax offenses.

Federal records show Albert Pirro has been directly lobbying the executive office of the president and other White House offices on behalf of GNYHA. The records say he has been lobbying on Medicare issues and do not say he has been lobbying on the corporate immunity issue.

Pirro has only been filing disclosures as a Washington lobbyist since 2017, when Trump became president. GNYHA — which is one of only three Pirro lobbying clients in Washington — has paid Pirro’s firm nearly $2.3 million since hiring him in 2017.

The New York Times recently reported that a number of nursing home companies, some of which have seen spikes in deaths due to COVID-19 along with allegations of mismanagement, have been recruiting Trump allies to lobby on their behalf in DC to secure relief funding, tax breaks, and a liability shield.

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