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Whistleblower’s False Claims Act Lawsuit Results in $6.3 Million Settlement by Denver Health for Medicare and Medicaid Patient Misclassification

Documents from the recently unsealed case of U.S. ex rel Curren v. Denver Health Medical Center et al. reveal that Denver Health has agreed to a $6.3 million settlement with the federal government.  This settlement will resolve claims alleging that Denver Health inappropriately classified patients as receiving “inpatient” care in order to receive higher Medicare and Medicaid payments. Whistleblower Joanne Curren will receive $818,000 as a result of the federal government’s settlement with Denver Health.  Ms. Curren was an accountant who noticed the inappropriate classifications and payments and reported these issues internally to her superiors.  Rather than remedying the inappropriate classification and self-reporting the overpayments to the government, Denver Health terminated Ms. Curren.  Ms. Curren’s Complaint asserted False Claims Act (FCA) claims for fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid payments, as well as a claim under the FCA for retaliation.  The FCA allows individuals to act as “relators” in claims against corporations that defraud the government, and provides substantial monetary incentives in the form of a percentage of the settlement or judgment.  The FCA also provides protection for whistleblowers, such as Ms. Curren, who engage in activity in furtherance of a FCA claim, essentially barring an employer from retaliating against an employee for pursuing a FCA claim.  Individuals who know of a violation of the FCA or have been retaliated against for reporting their employer’s fraud, internally or externally, should contact the experienced employment law team at Ogborn Mihm LLP immediately to discuss their potential claims.

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