A Tennessee judge partially granted on Monday a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit against LHC Group Inc. and its subsidiary University of Tennessee Medical Center Home Care Services LLC that alleges the health care companies violated the False Claims Act.
Former LHC employees Leann Marshall and VIB Partners state in their consolidated amended complaint that the defendants have been submitting false claims to Medicare for the provision of services to home health patients since at least 2011. According to the lawsuit, to inflate payments the companies receive from federal health care programs, they falsify the assessment of patients’ health conditions so that they may qualify for home care, as well as the number of therapy and nursing visits provided to them.
“To carry out the aforementioned scheme, LHC directs its clinicians and managers to falsify Outcome and Assessment Information Set…assessments to claim greater reimbursement than the patients’ conditions warrant, without regard to the reasonableness and necessity of care,” the plaintiffs state.
Marshall began to voice her concern over the suspected fraudulent practices in May 2016, and a month later she was fired from her position without warning for involuntary performance, court documents explain.
“The purported reason given for Marshall’s termination was pretextual,” the lawsuit states. “The real reason for her dismissal was her objection to and refusal to comply with LHC’s fraud.”
District Judge Curtis L. Collier dismissed VIB Partners from the case for having no unique claims because of a first-to-file bar with another case filed in a Kentucky court in 2014. The defendant’s motion to dismiss was denied in part as Marshall’s retaliation claim was ruled plausible.
The defendants are represented by Alston & Bird LLP.