Senior living operator will pay $145 million to settle billing disputes

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Life Care Centers of America agreed this week to pay $145 million to settle rehabilitation-overbilling accusations, the Department of Justice has announced.

This marks the largest-ever settlement involving a privately held multi-facility owner, said Benjamin Mizer, deputy assistant attorney general. As part of the deal, the firm admits to no wrongdoing. LCCA is the nation's largest privately held skilled care operator but also offers assisted living and independent living services.

The Cleveland, TN-based firm was accused of submitting false claims for seven years, beginning in 2006. Residents were allegedly placed in ultra high therapy reimbursement categories as a way to increase Medicare and veterans' care payments. Therapy also was administered to residents who either did not need or no longer required such assistance, federal officials claimed.

In a statement to McKnight's, the company said it has “strongly disagreed with the allegations and believes that it was entitled to payment for services rendered.”

“We deny in the strongest possible terms that Life Care engaged in any illegal or improper conduct,” CEO Forrest Preston said in the statement. “We are, however, pleased to finally put this matter behind us, without any admission of wrongdoing, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to deliver quality care and services to our patients, residents, and their families.”

The announced deal also settles allegations brought in a separate lawsuit against the firm, authorities said.

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