APRIA: Receives Subpoenas For Billing Documents
Federal prosecutors are asking "struggling" Apria Healthcare Group Inc. to turn over documents on its billing practices, the company said yesterday. The government is reportedly "investigating Apria's billing practices with Medicare, Medicaid and other federally funded health care programs." The Los Angeles Times reports the problem makes Apria -- the nation's largest home health care provider -- "the latest health care company to be targeted in the federal government's continuing hunt for possible fraud in publicly funded health plans." The U.S. attorney's office subpoenaed records from company branch offices in Costa Mesa, San Diego, Sacramento and Canonsburg, Pa. (Marsh, 7/9). "We don't know the scope of their investigation," said Apria spokesperson Sheree Aronson. "We don't have any reason to believe the company has done anything improper." Apria officials said the company consistently complies with government regulations. "It is not unusual for a health care company of Apria's size to become subject to inquiries of this type," said Apria Senior Vice President and General Counsel Robert Holcombe. "We have developed and implemented a comprehensive, companywide program designed to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations," he said (Bloomberg News/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/9).
The Wall Street Journal reports company officials stressed that no charges have been filed and that there are no allegations of wrongdoing. Federal officials declined to comment on the investigation. After Apria's announcement that subpoenas had been issued, the company's stock "plunged 81.25 cents, or 11.7% to $6.125 (Rundle, 7/9). The federal probe is the latest stumbling block for Apria. Earlier this year, the company replaced its senior management and two-thirds of its board of directors after it lost more than $270 million in 1997 (Bloomberg News/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/9). Click here for more California Healthline coverage of Apria.