Justice Department Reaches Settlement Agreement with Vibra Healthcare and El Paso Rehabilitation Hospital over Allegations of Violating the False Claims Act
U.S. Attorney John F. Bash of the Western District of Texas announced today that Vibra Healthcare, LLC, Vibra Healthcare II, LLC, Vibra Rehab Holdings, LP, Vibra Rehabilitation Hospital of El Paso, LLC d/b/a Highlands Rehabilitation Hospital, and Vibra IRFM Company, LLC, (collectively referred to as “Vibra”) will pay $6,250,000.00 to settle allegations that they defrauded the U.S. through its Medicare healthcare programs. Vibra Healthcare, based in Pennsylvania, operates freestanding acute medical rehabilitation hospitals and long term acute care hospitals nationwide, including Highlands Rehabilitation Hospital in El Paso, Texas.
On January 21, 2016, Thomas A. Floren, a former employee at Highlands, filed a qui tam action in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleging that Highlands and others submitted false claims to Medicare for services that did not meet the requirements for payment. Medicare requires that inpatient rehabilitation facilities, such as Highlands, provide an intensive level of services to patients, including that the patient be examined by a qualified physician at least three times per week throughout a patient’s stay. Floren alleged that patients at Highlands were not seen three times per week by a qualified physician, and that Vibra billed Medicare for services knowing that it did not meet this requirement.
“I am pleased that the parties reached a fair settlement in this case. If medical providers want reimbursement from Medicare, they need to follow the rules. That is especially true for rules designed to ensure that patients get healthy. We won’t hesitate to hold providers to their legal obligations,” said U.S. Attorney Bash.
The lawsuit, United States ex rel. Thomas A. Floren v. Vibra Rehabilitation Hospital of El Paso, LLC et al., Civil Action SA16CA0058 was filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permits private parties to sue for false claims against the U.S. and to receive a share of any recovery.
The case was investigated by the FBI. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Strawn represented the federal government in the civil lawsuit, with the assistance of the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The claims asserted against the defendants are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.