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Interface Rehab, headquartered and operating in Orange County, has agreed to pay $2 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by causing the submission of claims to Medicare for rehabilitation therapy services that were not reasonable or necessary.

The settlement resolves allegations that, from January 1, 2006, through October 10, 2014, the Placentia-based Interface knowingly submitted or caused the submission of false claims for medically unreasonable and unnecessary “Ultra High” levels of rehabilitation therapy for Medicare Part A residents at 11 Skilled Nursing Facilities.

These facilities include Colonial Care Center, Covina Rehabilitation Center, Crenshaw Nursing Home, Green Acres Lodge, Imperial Care Center, Laurel Convalescent Hospital, Live Oak Rehabilitation Center, Longwood Manor Convalescent Hospital, Monterey Care Center, San Gabriel Convalescent Center, and Whittier Pacific Care Center.

In July 2020, the Department of Justice announced that Longwood Management Corporation and 27 affiliated skilled nursing facilities agreed to pay $16.7 million to the United States to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to Medicare for rehabilitation therapy services that were not reasonable or necessary.

This newly announced  settlement resolves Interface’s role in that alleged conduct.

During the relevant time period, Medicare reimbursed skilled nursing facilities at a daily rate that reflected the skilled therapy and nursing needs of qualifying patients. The greater the patient’s needs, the higher the level of Medicare reimbursement. The highest level of Medicare reimbursement for skilled nursing facilities was for “Ultra High” therapy patients, who required a minimum of 720 minutes of skilled therapy from two therapy disciplines (e.g., physical, occupational, or speech therapy), one of which had to be provided five days a week.

The United States contends that Interface pressured therapists to increase the amount of therapy provided to patients in order to meet pre-planned targets for Medicare revenue. These alleged targets could only be achieved by billing for a high percentage of patients at the “Ultra High” level without regard to patients’ individualized needs.

This civil settlement includes the resolution of claims brought under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by Keith Pennetti, a former Director of Rehab at Interface. Under those provisions, a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of any recovery. Mr. Pennetti, will receive $360,000 of the settlement proceeds. The qui tam case is captioned United States ex rel. Pennetti v. Interface Rehab, et al., No. CV-14-4133 (C.D. Cal.).

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.