A Broward County occupational therapist is about to receive a share of $29 million as reward for her reporting her healthcare employer as a Medicare cheat.
Tammie Taylor’s sensibilities of fairness and honesty, said Miami lawyer Anthony Vitale, are what motivated her to report Life Care Centers of America, a giant corporate owner of skilled nursing facilities, to federal regulators.
Healthcare attorney Vitale said the U.S. Department of Justice investigated and Life Care settled for a whopping $145 million. In addition, Life Care is also placed on administrative probation for five years.
Since Taylor and another whistle-blower in Tennessee came forward and assisted the government, the two will split $29 million.
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Vitale, who said the case took eight years, declined to reveal the exact amount slated for Taylor because a certain percentage will also be used to pay him and the other whistle-blower’s legal team.
So, what happened?
In a nutshell, according to a DOJ news release, Life Care had some of its 220 facilities nationwide “submit false claims to Medicare and TRICARE for rehabilitation therapy services that were not reasonable, necessary and/or skilled.”
Vitale said Taylor worked for seven months at the company’s Inverrary facility, where she was ordered to provide all patients with the same maximum amount of services whether they needed it or not. Taylor questioned whether “maximum therapy” actually could be harmful to some patients.
Taylor was eventually fired.
Said Vitale: “Anytime a government program like Medicare has to pay tens of millions more than it’s supposed to pay, it affects everybody’s premiums.”
Taylor’s first check from the reward should be on the way since Life Care’s was ordered to pay one third of the settlement by Oct. 31, Vitale said.