A health care company has agreed to pay $270 million to resolve allegations it provided inaccurate information to Medicare, federal prosecutors said Monday.
DaVita Medical Holdings admitted to practices that caused incorrect diagnosis codes to be submitted in order to obtain inflated payments, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
California-based HealthCare Partners, which DaVita acquired in 2012, shared the overpayments with its parent company, prosecutors said.
In one instance, HealthCare Partners sent out improper guidance advising its physicians to use an improper diagnosis code for a particular spinal condition that yielded increased reimbursement.
The settlement also resolves allegations made by a whistleblower that HealthCare Partners engaged in so-called “one-way” chart reviews in which it scoured its patients’ medical records for diagnoses its providers may have failed to record. The company then submitted these “missed” diagnoses to be used in obtaining increased Medicare payments, prosecutors said.
At the same time, officials said, the firm ignored inaccurate diagnosis codes that should have been deleted and that would have decreased Medicare reimbursement.
Colorado-based DaVita, one of the largest dialysis and kidney care providers in the U.S., did not admit wrongdoing. “The settlement announced today reflects close cooperation with the government to address practices largely originating with HealthCare Partners,” DaVita said in a statement.
The settlement will be paid with escrow funds that DaVita required be set aside by the former owners of HealthCare Partners in 2012 during its acquisition, the statement said.
Amazon Raising Minimum Wage for US Workers to $15 per Hour
Amazon is boosting its minimum wage for all U.S. workers to $15 per hour starting next month.
The company said Tuesday that the wage hike will benefit more than 350,000 workers, which includes full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal positions. It includes Whole Foods employees. Amazon’s hourly operations and customer service employees, some who already make $15 per hour, will also see a wage increase, the Seattle-based company said.
Amazon has more than 575,000 employees globally.
Pay for workers at Amazon can vary by location. Its starting pay is $10 an hour at a warehouse in Austin, Texas, and $13.50 an hour in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The median pay for an Amazon employee last year was $28,446, according to government filings, which includes full-time, part-time and temporary workers.
Amazon said its public policy team will start pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
“We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country,” Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon global corporate affairs, said in a statement.
PepsiCo’s Motors in 3Q, But Dollar Begins to Drag on Outlook
PepsiCo is reporting better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and revenue, but shares are edging lower after the company warned of the effects that the strong dollar will have on its performance for the rest of the year.
The Purchase, New York, company had a profit of $2.5 billion, or $1.75 per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were $1.59 per share, or 3 cents better than Wall Street was expecting, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.
Revenue of $16.49 billion also topped forecasts.
But PepsiCo Inc. on Tuesday revised its full-year projections, saying it expects a 1 percentage-point headwind from currency rates.
Japan’s PP Reshuffles Cabinet; Foreign Trade Ministers Stay
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reshuffled his Cabinet following his re-election as president of the ruling party, retaining key diplomatic and economy posts as Japan tackles tough trade talks with the U.S.
Abe was re-elected in September to head the Liberal Democratic Party for a third term, paving the way to serve as Japan’s leader for up to three more years.
Tuesday’s reshuffle, Abe’s fourth since taking office in 2012, kept the foreign, finance, economy and trade ministers, while changing the defense minister.
Abe had to re-solidify his grip on power in the party after his weaker-than-expected showing in the leadership election. He renewed more than half of the 19 Cabinet members and added some of his confidantes to help his push for a constitutional revision, his long-cherished goal.
Iran’s Rial Unexpectedly Rallies After Weeks of Steep Falls
Iran’s currency, the rial, is rallying after weeks of depreciation following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Money exchange shops in Tehran on Tuesday were offering 135,000 rials for one U.S. dollar. Only the day before, the rial was selling at 170,000 to $1.
Analysts offered various possible reasons for the rally, including a new policy allowing the Central Bank to more muscularly intervene to support the rial, as well as allowing imports of more foreign currency from abroad.
There is also hope that Europe will be able to shield Iran from further U.S. sanctions in November targeting Iran’s oil industry.
Some, however, warn that optimism could fade and the currency moves may just be a “herd reaction” to the rial strengthening.
© The Associated Press. All rights reserved.