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Here on our blog we try to post useful content that helps to better demonstrate the many key factors that come into play during the employment screening process. From everything from drug testing, to employment & education verification, and one of our biggest points of emphasis since the pandemic– OIG exclusions. We talk at length here about the OIG exclusion process works, but it’s always best to get in touch with us to ask any questions you have with a professional. We have a team of dedicated investigators who can take all the worry off your hands.

Last month, the Justice Dept. posted a press release to announce the unfortunate circumstance that we talk about so much here on our site. When something happens at the hands of an medical professional who ISN”T cleared through the national OIG database, or if you even EMPLOY someone on the exclusion list…your organization will be penalized. Heavy fines like the one we are about to summarize will be in your organization’s future if you fail to meet the legal requirements by OIG standards.

Here’s a little more info on what happened to CARECO MEDICAL, INC and its owner and CEO, HELGA PFANNER.

CareCo Medical (“CareCo”) is a Waterford Conneticut based home healthcare organization that provides skilled nursing services, medical social work services, and rehabilitative therapies. When we, as a nation, were forced to go through what we did throughout 2020 and into 2021, companies like CareCo were sure to have had to make hiring decisions.

Unfortunately a decision made in November of 2018, long before the pandemic, would cost the company and CEO.

Acting U.S. Attorney Leonard C Boyle explained on April 12, 2021 that when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) excludes an individual or entity from federal health care programs, no program payments may be made for items or services furnished by that excluded individual or entity.

Physical Therapist / Manager

In November of 2018, CarCo and Pfanner hired Todd Roberts, a physical therapist, for a management position at CareCo. Roberts served in that position until March 2019. The problem? Roberts was found to be on the OIG-HHS Exclusion list for an instance that took place way back in 2012.

In 2012, Todd Roberts, a physical therapist, pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing a federal audit and, pursuant to a related civil settlement agreement, agreed to pay $328,828.  In addition, Roberts entered into a six-year Integrity Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designed to ensure future compliance with the requirements of the Medicare program.  Roberts later defaulted on his obligations under the Integrity Agreement and was excluded from all federal health care programs in 2015.

Paying for Damages

This is glaring example of how something may not show up on a traditional background screening, but will show up on an OIG-HHS exclusion check. It’s also an example of how companies may think that they can skate around someone being on the list, as we note that Roberts was not hired by CareCo as a “physical therapist,” but in a “management” role. We can assume that Roberts was a valuable asset to hire as a manager, but his status on the OIG prevents him from even working as a “manager.”

For the liability for hiring and employing Roberts while he was excluded from all federal healthcare programs, CareCo and Pfanner will pay $28,246. Beyond the almost $30k, the company is forced to get dragged throughout any media outlets (like this one) as again, an UNFORTUNATE example of a company that does a lot of good for people, being penalized for having someone on their payroll on the OIG list.

Don’t Be an Unfortunate Example

Had CareCo properly vetted the employee through the OIG HHS system, with a background screening company like Employment Screening Services, they would have one less press release on justice.gov, and at LEAST $28k more money in their pockets. Don’t be the next unfortunate example– turn to a team you can trust for healthcare exclusion searches.