Nursing Home Caught Billing Patients After They Died

The nursing home at the center of several deaths after Hurricane Irma has lost Medicaid and Medicare funding, but that’s not all. According to the loved ones of patients who passed away due to heat-related illnesses, the nursing home continued to bill patients who passed away. The Sun-Sentinel reports on the story.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills first made news when eight patients succumbed in one day to heat-related causes after the nursing home lost power and the air conditioner ceased working. In the following days, six more patients would pass away and police link those deaths to the sweltering conditions in the facility.

A spokesperson for the state’s Agency for Healthcare Administration said that the facility was suspended from the Medicaid program in September and cannot bill for either Medicaid directly or through Medicaid health plans.

99-year-old Albertina Vega was one of the first victims to succumb at the nursing facility. When the wife of Vega’s cousin went to close out her bank account, she found the account empty. The nursing home had taken an automatic payment of $958, which prompted an overdraft fee.

The payment was taken out on October 10th, which was well after Vega’s death, but it was also the day that would have been her 100th birthday. The family is still trying to recover the money, but no one has been able to reach anyone at the nursing facility for several days.

Whether Vega’s cause is an isolated incident is unclear. The state agency for Healthcare Administration could not comment on whether other patients who had died or even if survivors were billed after the facility shut down.

Both Hollywood Police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have launched an investigation into the 14 deaths.

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