Athena Health Care paying back staffing agencies, resolving employee insurance claims

An embattled New England nursing home provider said it is cooperating with federal regulators over an alleged $6 million in outstanding employee health insurance claims. 

Athena Health Care Systems also has entered into agreements with the temporary staffing agencies to whom it owes money and is rebuilding its staffing levels, according to a statement the company provided McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Tuesday. 

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The company said that it has been able to “significantly reduce agency staffing” at its more than 40 long-term care facilities as it hires its own personnel. 

“The patients and families we serve, our valued employees, and the communities across Connecticut should be assured that Athena will continue to meet the long-term care needs now and into the future,” the statement said.

The company operates facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Officials in all three states have been investigating after six staffing agencies filed lawsuits in Connecticut alleging the company owes more than a combined $142,000 in back pay. A separate lawsuit seeks more than $2 million for the outstanding debt Athena owes to Lifeline Staffing Agency, the Connecticut Mirror reported Sunday.

ClaimDOC LLC filed a federal lawsuit against the company alleging Athena failed to pay more than $6 million in employee health claims. 

“We have also made significant payments towards health insurance claims and are now up to date and in compliance,” the Athena statement said, adding that it is cooperating with the US Department of Labor.

Athena recently agreed to pay a $1.75 million fine to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office for admitting people with substance abuse issues to its facilities without the ability to care for them properly, which led to “numerous overdoses,” according to the attorney general’s office. The company still faces a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a resident who died after being beaten with a walker by his roommate.

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