January 13, 2016
Nursing home therapy giant RehabCare has agreed to pay the government $125 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it knowingly caused facilities it contracted with to inappropriately bill Medicare for services. Money from the settlement will be returned to the taxpayers, under the False Claims Act. The FCA makes it possible for private citizens to file suit on the government’s behalf, if they learn of fraud against the government. The whistleblower ultimately gets a percentage of the money recovered.
In the lawsuit, the whistleblowers and government alleged that RehabCare, whose parent company is Kentucky-based Kindred Healthcare, set unrealistic financial goals and scheduled therapy to get maximum reimbursements regardless of patients’ actual needs, according to an article in Business Insurance, a sister publication of Modern Healthcare.
Among other things, RehabCare allegedly scheduled and reported therapy after the patients’ treating therapists had recommended they be discharged from therapy. It also allegedly reported that skilled therapy had been provided to patients who were sleeping at the time or otherwise unable to undergo or benefit from therapy.
The provider also allegedly placed patients in the highest therapy reimbursement levels rather than determining their levels of care based on individualized evaluations.
Two former RehabCare employees filed the original whistleblower lawsuit; one was a physical therapist and manager, and the other was an occupational therapist.
Click here to read more in Business Insurance.
May 23, 2013
A nurse’s allegations about excessive charges to Medicare led to a $7.3 million settlement between a Plano, Texas-based firm and the U.S. Justice Department.
Whistleblower Laura Davis’ complaint involved charges for Epogen, an anemia drug used to treat dialysis patients. A “qui tam” whistleblower lawsuit filed on her behalf in Baltimore alleged that Dialysis Corporation of America billed Medicare and other government healthcare programs for more Epogen than was used.
Epogen is an intravenous medication that is used to treat anemia, a common condition afflicting patients with end-stage renal disease. Epogen vials contain a small amount of medication in excess of the labeled amount, known as “overfill,” to compensate for medication that may remain in the vial after extraction and in the syringe upon administration.
The United States contends that from January 2004 through May 2011, DCA billed for 10-11% overfill whenever it administered Epogen. However, because of the types of syringes DCA used, the United States alleges that DCA was not able to withdraw and administer 10-11% overfill every time it administered Epogen to patients, and thus submitted false claims to Medicare that overstated the amount of Epogen that it was actually providing.
Dialsysis Corporation was acquired by U.S. Renal Care, which is headquartered in Plano, in June 2010.
Click here to read more from The Dallas Morning News.
April 26, 2013
The health care industry continues to lead the way when it comes to job growth and pay. Six out of the ten “best” jobs listed in this year’s CareerCast.com Jobs Rated Report are in the medical field. From Biomedical Engineer to Dental Hygienist to Physical Therapist, medically related fields rank well for “work environment, stress and hiring outlook.” Working with computers also continues to score well. Here are the top 10 jobs and their average yearly income:
- Actuary – $91,211
- Biomedical Engineer – $85,163
- Software Engineer – $89,147
- Audiologist – $68,135
- Financial Planner – $107,222
- Dental Hygienist – $69,107
- Occupational Therapist – $174,108
- Optometrist – $95,254
- Physical Therapist – $78,102
- Computer Systems Analyst – $79,145
Click here to see the complete list.
On the other side of the spectrum, the worst job on the list is “Newspaper Reporter,” with an average salary of $36,000 and a decreasing outlook for job growth. Tough times in journalism.
August 9, 2012
By Angie Moreschi:
Just think. You could walk into Starbucks, say your name and the barista would automatically whip up your double mocha skinny latte. No, not because you’re such a frequent customer that they know who you are and what you want when you step up to the counter. This has to do with them tracking your every move through technology.
In today’s big brother, cyber spy world, computer chips can pretty much let retailers know a whole heck of a lot about you and your buying habits. And now, if you’d rather not waste all that breath to tell the cashier what you want, a new app at Starbucks will do the ordering for you. All you have to do is say your name.
The Java App
Starbucks is teaming up with Square, the San Francisco company that brought us the mobile payment app. Starting this fall, 7000 Starbucks cafes will start using Pay With Square, which uses a GPS technology to indicate when a Square user is in the cafe.
All you do is install the Square app on your smart phone, and then link a credit or debit card to the account. Techno-wizardry takes it from there and identifies your location when you walk into Starbucks. Your name and picture pop up on the store’s computer system, so when you’re ready to order, all you have to do is say your name. The cashier matches your name and picture to their “point-of-sale” system, and voila! No need to go through all the trouble of remembering your favorite beverage’s exotic description or getting your wallet out and fumbling with a credit card or cash and all that. This is just like saying, ‘Hey Sal, it’s me. Put it on my tab.”
Technology Trumps Privacy
To make all this possible for your caffeine inducing pleasure, Starbucks is investing $25 million in the new Square system and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will join Square’s board of directors. Pay with Square has been around for awhile, but it’s mainly used by small businesses. This venture by Starbucks could really launch the company to another level.
So, starting this fall, if you choose to give another little piece of your privacy away, you can order your cup of Joe, just by saying your name. Funny thing is, paying with the Square app might make you feel like a “regular,” but you’ve got to wonder if it’s actually kind of sad that someone you really don’t know at all, is going to treat you like an old pal.
August 8, 2012
A baby’s laugh. A steak sizzling. How about the sound of a soda being cracked open and poured into a glass? These are among the most powerful audio triggers that capture your attention in commercials, according to marketing expert Martin Lindstrom. In his new, best selling book Buy-ology, Lindstrom exposes tricks of the advertising trade that get you, the consumer, to buy more.
TIME Magazine recently profiled Lindstrom and his “neural marketing” research, which he uses to help Fortune 500 companies, like Pepsi and Disney, attract customers. It’s a scientific way to measure consumer reaction to advertising. People are exposed to ads while hooked up to machines that monitor brain activity, pupil dilation, sweat responses and flickers in facial muscles, all of which are markers of emotion.
The technology is based on a concept that suggests the majority of human thinking takes place just below the level of controlled awareness. Turns out, what we hear can be just as powerful as what we see. For a more in-depth analysis from Lindstrom about the techniques he employes, watch the video above.
Proponents of this theory believe that this lower level of recognition is where the human brain makes determinations on what’s favorable and what isn’t. Therefore, marketing agencies spend millions of dollars in research to determine what sounds evoke pleasant thoughts, such as the sound of a baby laughing or a steak sizzling on the grill. It’s believed that hearing these types of sounds will help you remember a certain product in a pleasing way when you are shopping.
If the sound of all this trickery makes you feel curious, click here, for the full report on neural advertising in TIME Magazine.
July 17, 2012
Shopping at one of the big warehouse club chains, like Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s, can be an afternoon adventure for some. Lots of good deals and super-sized products can lure you in to a purchasing frenzy. But is it worth the cost? Don’t look now, but you might not be saving as much as you thought.
CNBC reports that customers may believe they’re paying for a chance to save money, but some experts think membership fees actually cause consumers to spend more. Membership in these club stores does not come free; each requires you to pay before you purchase a single item. Sam’s Club charges $40 for basic membership, BJ’s $50, and Costco $55.
Part of the twist with warehouse clubs is you have to make up that initial investment, before you start saving money. Certainly, you can save money, but you may end up buying more than you need in the long run. There are good deals, though. According to a Consumers’ Checkbook survey published by the not-for-profit Center for the Study of Services, BJ’s prices were on average 29 percent lower, Costco’s 30 percent lower, and Sam’s 33 percent lower than the largest supermarket chains.
Lack of Selection
The trade-off is often a lack of selection. Warehouse clubs carry a relatively small array of items in a limited range of sizes. The Consumers’ Checkbook survey found that warehouse club shoppers would only be able to find about half of the products they buy at their regular supermarket. BJ’s carries roughly 7,200 individual items, Sam’s club about 4,900 items, and Costco around 4,000.
Click here to read more in the full report from CNBC.
June 1, 2012
By Darrin Clouse :
The old saying : “The only constant is change” has held up for centuries and is applicable to many of our daily routines. I doubt that François de la Rochefoucauld was pondering the airline industry when he came up with his famous perception of our world, but it certainly applies to recent adjustments.
Many of us remember when smoking was allowed during flights, and you could even get away with calling the flight attendant “stewardess.” But the changes we’re experiencing these days are more related to cost, and many consumers feel they are now paying for services that they received for free in the past.
April 13, 2012
Here we go again. First, as CWN reported in 2009, Wells Fargo Sued Itself. Now, it’s Bank of America’s turn. Dow Jones Business Columnist and blogger Al Lewis flagged us to this latest nonsensical undertaking in the wacky world of foreclosures.
Essentially, Bank of America is foreclosing on a property on which it services the loan for an investor and holds a second mortgage. Uh-oh, that creates a bit of a conflict. What to do? Let’s sue ourselves, of course. The company is literally seeking damages from itself in order to foreclose on a condo owner. The Huffington Post’s Zach Carter lays out all the details here, if you’re interested.
For Bank of America, this is actually not the first time it’s sued itself in a foreclosure case. The company has done so at least 11 times in Palm Beach County. “Naming the second-lien holder in the suit is necessary to eliminate the junior interest,” Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens told the Huffington Post.
Back when Wells Fargo sued itself, Dow Jones Columnist Al Lewis opined, “It takes some pretty shameless lawyers and a rich culture of corporate stupidity for a company to sue itself.”
I guess not much has changed.
April 10, 2012
By Angie Moreschi:
Okay, this might have a bit of a Karma feel to it, but you’ve still got to wonder, how exactly do people keep falling for the Nigerian “pigeon drop” scam. That’s where you are contacted and told you can get a much bigger pay-out, but first, you just have to send some of your money to make the transaction possible. Right, good luck with that.
This time, attorneys, who you might think would know better, became the target, and, yes, many fell for it. Among them, the Minneapolis law firm of Milavetz, Gallop & Millavetz (MGM). The Minneapolis StarTribune reports MGM became a victim after receiving an email from someone claiming to be a Korean woman who needed help in securing a $400,000 legal settlement for an injury in their area.
As it turns out, MGM was not alone. The government had begun a secret investigation of Nigerian collection scams that target U.S. attorneys. A Nigerian man and a Canadian resident were indicted in the case, but much of it remains under seal. Still, the government says the two were part of an international conspiracy targeting lawyers and law firms, which nailed 80 victims to the tune of at least $32 million. In all, there were some 300 known targets, with attempts to steal more than $100 million.
Scamming law firms
So, how do highly educated, skeptical attorneys fall for this? According to the federal indictment in Pennsylvania, it went down like this: A co-conspirator contacts a law firm, usually by e-mail, seeking help to collect a legal settlement or payments from a divorce or real estate transaction. Another co-conspirator poses as a representative of the party who owes the money and then delivers a counterfeit check. After the check supposedly clears, the money is wired to a bank, usually in Asia, from which it disappears. Click here to read the full story in the Minneapolis StarTribune.
Law Firm Blames its Bank
Of course, we’re talking about lawyers being ripped off here, so while the money has disappeared, they believe someone needs to pay. In the case of MGM, the law firm is going after the bank, which frankly continues the whole karma thing.
Robert Milavetz of MGM says its bank, Wells Fargo, is at fault and should pay them back. The firm deposited the fake check from the Nigerian scammers in its Wells Fargo account. Then, in an effort to perform due diligence called the bank to make sure the check had cleared. Bank employees apparently told the firm that “yes” indeed the check had cleared. Of course, it had not. So, when the firm wired the money to Asia, their “client” disappeared with the loot. If we learned anything from the mortgage meltdown, it was to be careful about trusting what your bank tells you… but we digress.
In the end, Milavetz is going after Wells Fargo alleging the bank knowingly engaged in a transaction that involved criminal activity or was knowingly blind to the facts and law. The firm is seeking $396,500 from the bank. Wells Fargo issued a brief statement on the lawsuit saying, “We believe the allegations have no merit. We will vigorously defend, and expect to prevail.”
It’s little comfort to know that even supposedly smart guys get duped by this, but if you take anything away here, remember, there’s no such thing as easy money!
April 5, 2012
Health Care Reform is at the center of a political tug of war that affects us all. As important as this is to our lives, few Americans actually know what the law actually does.
As the Supreme Court ponders whether to declare it unconstitutional, CNN decided to break out 10 examples of what changes the law makes that could affect your life in unexpected ways. Everything from taxing tanning beds to requiring your doctor to disclose what perks they get from pharmaceutical companies to free preventive care for things like mammograms, physical exams, colonoscopies, and vaccinations.
Here is the list. Click here to read more about each item:
1. How many goodies your doctors get
2. More breastfeeding rooms and breaks
3. Caloric reality at every major chain restaurants
4. Abstinence-only education
5. Flexible spending accounts stiffen
6. Tanning will cost you
7. Support for wellness programs at work
8. Free preventive care
9. Home visits to expecting families
10. Health plans you can read