Two major whistleblower awards were revealed late last week.
Reuters is reporting a $1.7 million award to three Takata employees who exposed problems in airbag inflators.
In a separate case, CareWell Urgent Care Centers will pay a $2 million to two states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to settle a case involving both overbilling and unnecessary care. The walk-in clinics allegedly overbilled Medicaid and the insurance plan for state employees, according to a release issued Friday from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
The case was triggered after a former CareWell nurse practitioner came forward, according to a story in The Boston Globe.
Aileen Cartier, who worked at several of the company’s locations for almost two years, said managers told staff to take medical histories and perform exams on patients that far exceeded what was needed for their simple ailments.
The AG’s office alleges that the clinics delivered and billed for unnecessary care. Medical staff were told they had to perform the exams because they were required by CareWell’s malpractice carrier. The case also alleges that office staff were instructed to alter bills to increase payment from the state health plans.
The Globe story reports that a CareWell representative issued a statement in response to the settlement, noting that the company cooperated with the investigation: “We believe it is crucial to be thorough with each patient’s examination in order to provide the best possible care,” the Globe reported.
The payment will be collected by Massachusetts, Rhode Island and HHS. The Globe story quotes Cartier’s lawyer saying she will share in 17 percent of the settlement, but also has outstanding retaliation claims against CareWell.
Reuters reports that in the Takada case, the whistleblowers brought their concerns to the federal government under the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act. But, the agency has not yet set up its whistleblower program and was not involved with the settlement.
Takata agreed in bankruptcy court on Monday to pay the three men out of a reserve fund created during its bankruptcy proceeding. Although Congress passed a whistleblower act in 2015 the government has not completed work on a mechanism to pay awards.
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