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Staffing agencies to pay $260,000 for overcharging senior living operators

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Three temporary staffing agencies collectively will pay more than $260,000 to resolve allegations that they charged assisted living communities and nursing homes rates that were higher than the maximums allowed by the state, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell.

Details of the settlements:

  • Nebraska-based Lawrence Recruiting Specialists will pay $200,000, including refunds of $75,000, to affected long-term care facilities, as well as a civil penalty of approximately $125,000.
  • Maryland-based Maxim Healthcare Staffing Services has agreed to pay approximately $1,500 back to affected operators, as well as $55,000 in penalties
  • Belmont, MA-based Nursing on Demand will pay $7,388.69, including full restitution to the long-term care facilities affected by the conduct, as well as penalties. 

Under the terms of the settlements, all three agencies have agreed to measures that will ensure their future compliance with rate regulations, according to the attorney general. Nursing on Demand also will maintain a corporate compliance program, which includes compliance training for employees; a code of conduct to ensure compliance with Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services rate regulations; and periodic auditing, testing and monitoring.

The settlement follows the issuance of an advisory in March by the attorney general’s office in response to allegations the office received that some temporary nurse staffing agencies were attempting to overcharge, demand additional fees or enter into misleading arrangements with senior living communities and nursing homes.

Violations of regulations in Massachusetts, according to the attorney general, include: 

  • Offering to contract with long-term care facilities for temporary nursing services at rates higher than the maximum rate.
  • Claiming that the maximum rates have been suspended due to COVID-19 when they have not.
  • Requesting holiday pay for services rendered on dates that are not listed as agreed-to holidays in contracts between the temporary nursing agency and long-term care facility.
  • Attempting to improperly classify employees as travel nurses or fixed-term employees. 
  • Demanding an additional fee for a temporary nursing agency employee to pick up a shift, often shortly before a shift begins, which is commonly referred to as a “pickup bonus.”
  • Requesting an additional fee or higher rate for scheduling a temporary nursing agency employee to a shift within 48 hours of the start of the shift.
  • Offering long-term care facilities an opportunity to “boost” the rate to be paid to a temporary nursing agency employee, often shortly before a shift begins.
  • Proposing rates higher than the maximum rate during inclement weather.
  • Proposing rates higher than the maximum rate based on the number of current cases of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities.
  • Providing bonuses to temporary nursing employees and charging long-term care facilities for those bonuses, resulting in operators paying the temporary nursing agency above the maximum rate.

“Affordability continues to be a major challenge for Massachusetts residents and their loved ones seeking long-term care, and my office will continue to hold accountable those who seek to take advantage in an already-fragile and high-cost system,” Campbell said in a statement.

Source: McKnights Seniorliving

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