The United States has filed a civil healthcare fraud lawsuit against 11 skilled nursing facilities in the New York metropolitan area, their management company, owner and a senior employee for allegedly fraudulently billing Medicare for unnecessary services, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

The complaint alleges that from at least January 2010 through September 2019, “defendants systematically kept patients at the facilities longer than necessary in order to maximize the amount billed to Medicare for the patients’ stays.” Further, the lawsuit claims, the facilities provided higher levels of rehabilitation therapy than medically needed in order to bill Medicare at the highest rate.The False Claims Act case is the result of a private whistleblower lawsuit before Judge Cathy Seibel of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York that previously had been filed under seal. The defendants did not respond to a request for comment from the McKnight’s Business Daily by the publication deadline.