We know that abuse and neglect of nursing home residents is all too common. Make no mistake that nursing home management and ownership routinely psychologically abuse both the residents and family members of residents who confront abuse, neglect and other problems (including fraudulent billing) that takes place!

One such family member of a nursing home resident who has visited this blog wrote the following earlier today, “I just got a copy of a bill submitted to Medicare for $8,000 worth of therapies never done for my father by nursing home staff. Their fraudulent billing was so bold as to list therapies done on CHRISTMAS, a day when he was asleep 95% of the day!” When confronted by the family member, what did the nursing home’s administrator do? The family member continues, When I disputed the bill, the administrator told me perhaps it was time to move my father!”

THIS TYPE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL RETALIATION MUST STOP!!! It is NOT a crime or a bad thing to confront fraudulent nursing home billing! It is NOT fair to retaliate against a nursing home resident because their family member points out a legitimate problem! It is NEVER wrong to point out possible insurance fraud!

How is suggesting moving a family member to another nursing home a type of “psychological retaliation”? Because it is NOT in any way, shape or form an appropriate suggestion. Claims of possible fraudulent billing by a family member (or resident) isn’t something that should cause a nursing home administrator to even suggest a resident should be moved. The problem is the FRAUD committed by the facility and NOT reporting the possible fraud! The “sub-text” of this type of “suggestion” is actually a THREAT to involuntarily FORCE a resident to be moved as a way to punish the person concerned about fraudulent billing. Involuntary discharge from a nursing home because a resident or their family member reports possible fraud is ILLEGAL. Nursing homes are masterful in how they can cook up FALSE reasons (through lies and false charting of resident information) to make it appear that involuntary discharge is for legal reasons. Think of the stress inflicted upon the resident and/or family member to have to defend themselves against false claims. Think of the stress caused a family member when a nursing home resident, for no good reason, is forced to move to a different facility — some residents end up being moved literally hundreds of miles from their family member in order to find a facility that takes Medicare payment that will accept the resident. It isn’t easy to place a resident when the discharging facility has falsely documented problems about the resident in order to justify kicking them out.

If possible insurance fraud involves Medicare, as in the case of this reader, the official Medicare website (www.medicare.gov) offers the following information about how to report fraud

First, if you even suspect that Medicare is being charged for a service or supply that wasn’t provided your loved one (or a friend, or yourself), call toll-free 1-800-MEDICARE.

It will help to have the following information handy at the time you report fraud:

  • The provider’s name and any identifying number you may have.
  • The service or item you’re questioning.
  • The date the service or item was supposedly given or delivered.
  • The payment amount approved and paid by Medicare.
  • The name and Medicare number of the person the service or supplies were alegedly provided to.
  • The reason you think Medicare shouldn’t have paid.
  • Any other information you have showing why Medicare shouldn’t have paid for a service or item

Under certain circumstances fighting Medicare fraud can pay up to $1,000! You may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 if all of these 5 conditions are met:

  1. You report the suspected Medicare fraud. The allegation must be specific, not general.
  2. The suspected Medicare fraud you report must be confirmed as potential fraud by the Program Safeguard Contractor, the Zone Program Integrity Contractor, or the Medicare Drug Integrity Contractor (the Medicare contractors responsible for investigating potential fraud and abuse) and formally referred as part of a case by one of the contractors to the Office of Inspector General for further investigation.
  3. You aren’t an “excluded individual.” (Example: You didn’t participate in the fraud offense being reported. Or, there isn’t another reward that you qualify for under another government program).
  4. The person or organization you’re reporting isn’t already under investigation by law enforcement.
  5. Your report leads directly to the recovery of at least $100 of Medicare money. The incentive reward can’t exceed 10% of the overpayments recovered in the case or $1,000, whichever is less. If multiple individuals qualify for a reward, the reward is shared among them.

If you want to know more about Medicare’s Incentive Reward Program, call toll-free 1-800-MEDICARE.

My prayer is that nursing home residents and their family members may never again be subjected to psychological abuse in retaliation for telling the truth.