Hundreds of residents at 15 skilled-nursing facilities in Washington will benefit from a multistate agreement with Extendicare Health Services Inc. and its subsidiary, Progressive Step Corp., state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Friday.
The agreement, by Washington, seven other states and the federal government, resolves allegations that Extendicare billed Medicaid for nursing services that were so deficient they were effectively worthless, Ferguson’s office reported in a Friday release.
Extendicare also is required to provide monitored and improved care to the affected residents.
Ferguson’s office helped lead this “first-of-its-kind multistate effort” to hold a corporate nursing facility accountable for substandard nursing care.
“Our seniors and other vulnerable adults have a right to be treated with dignity and respect, not subjected to substandard care,” stated Ferguson in the release. “Nursing care facilities should know that we are watching and will hold them accountable.”
Extendicare is a Delaware corporation that, through its subsidiaries, operates 146 skilled-nursing facilities in 11 states. ProStep provides physical, speech and occupational rehabilitation services.
“We are pleased to finally put this matter behind us and look forward to continuing our efforts to deliver quality care and services to our patients and residents,” said Tim Lukenda, president and CEO of Extendicare, in a message posted on the company website. “We have already invested substantial resources to enhance our existing compliance program over the past several years. EHSI is a leader in the for-profit sector in registered nurse staffing levels and has made significant improvements in direct care staffing levels year over year as reported by Long Term Care Trend Tracker.”
The company has denied any illegal conduct and is not admitting wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Extendicare has 15 locations in Washington, according to the company website, in Auburn, Bainbridge, Bremerton, Centralia, Edmonds, Olympia, Port Angeles, Sequim, Shelton, Spokane and Vancouver.
The two Olympia facilities are Evergreen Nursing and Rehabilitation, and Puget Sound Healthcare.
Extendicare will pay the states and the federal government $28 million in civil damages to compensate Medicaid, Medicare and various federal health care programs for harm suffered as a result of its conduct, according to the release.
Washington’s total share of the resolution is roughly $1 million, with $541,871 returning directly to the state Medicaid program. Another $594,633 goes to the federal government for its share of Washington’s Medicaid program. The federal government matches state funds to support the Medicaid program in Washington.
Allegations stated that between 2007 and 2013, in 33 of its skilled-nursing homes in eight states, Extendicare billed Medicare and Medicaid for materially substandard skilled-nursing services and failed to provide care to its residents that met federal and state standards of care and regulatory requirements.
The states and the federal government allege that Extendicare failed to have a sufficient number of skilled nurses to adequately care for its residents while failing to provide adequate catheter care to some of the residents, and failing also to follow appropriate protocols to prevent pressure ulcers or falls.
In addition, as part of the resolution, Extendicare and ProStep must enter into a five-year chainwide “corporate integrity agreement” to ensure the level of care.
Also, Extendicare is required to conduct a comprehensive compliance program that must include, among other matters, both internal and external reviews of quality of care, and annual reviews of Medicare claims by an independent auditor.
This resolution was the result of a federal and state effort by the attorneys general of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin, the U.S. attorneys for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Southern District of Ohio, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.