Occupational Therapists Share $6 Million Whistleblower Award

whistleblower

Tennessee occupational therapists LeeAnn Holt and Kristi Emerson never set out to become whistleblowers, and certainly never dreamed of being awarded millions of dollars for reporting government fraud by their employer.

The two women were concerned that they might get into trouble themselves, and so they began documenting what they saw and gathering evidence, eventually reporting it back in 2014. This past week it was announced that the company they were working for, Louisville-based Signature Healthcare, had agreed to a settlement with the government of $230 million in the Medicare fraud case.

The women’s whistleblower case revolved around the company ordering a series of therapy treatments, including occupational, physical and speech therapy for patients whether the services were warranted or not to max out the allowable reimbursements. At the same time, the complaint accused the company of withholding care for patients who needed it when their government benefits had maxed out.

Whistleblower Recalls Key Moment of Truth

Thinking back on what spurred her to become a whistleblower, Ms. Holt remembers a cancer patient who didn’t want the occupational therapy that had been ordered for her. “She just put her hand on the therapist and said, ‘Honey, you need to go work with somebody that can really benefit from this.’ And you know, when you have a patient that is telling you that, you really have to stop and take inventory of what is going on here.”

Thinking back on what spurred her to become a whistleblower, Ms. Holt remembers a cancer patient who didn’t want the occupational therapy ordered for her. “She just put her hand on the therapist and said, ‘Honey, you need to go work with somebody that can benefit from this.’ And you know, when you have a patient that is telling you that, you have to stop and take inventory of what is going on here.”

Insiders file whistleblower lawsuits, usually employees, who report information about government fraud to enable more effective detection and the pursuit of legal remedies. In exchange for coming forward, whistleblowers get rewarded with between 15 and 25 percent of the total of any settlement or award that the government wins. Government attorneys are actively pursuing the prosecution of health care chains that are abusing the Medicare system and are interested in speaking with any whistleblowers who can come forward to assist them.

Author: Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor, and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.