APRIA HEALTHCARE: In Hot Water With Feds?
Apria Healthcare Group Inc. "is having trouble producing documents that justify its billing in federal health care programs," the Los Angeles Times reports. According to documents filed this week with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Apria "discovered 'errors' and 'deficiencies' in supporting documents for billings to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs" -- mistakes which could have the Costa Mesa-based home health care giant facing "criminal charges or civil claims." Robert Holcombe, general counsel for Apria, said yesterday Apria is cooperating with the federal government regarding the requested documents, emphasizing that any prosecution would be "unwarranted" because the mistakes were the result of "human error." Federal officials "said they would not comment on an ongoing investigation." The U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento has issued several subpoenas to Apria "seeking documents related to billing practices over the last three years," including patient records. In the SEC filing last week, Apria said any monetary charges federal authorities take should they find Apria engaged in illegal activity could be "highly material" to the company's financial condition. The Times reports that the investigation "comes at a difficult time for the loss-ridden company." Apria's third-quarter revenue "slumped" 28% from last year, yielding a $194.7 million loss (Marsh, 11/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.