Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) will pay $3.25 million to settle allegations that it submitted false nursing home staffing data to the federal government and improperly handled resident discharges, the California Attorney General’s Office announced late last week.
The settlement agreement comes one year after then-California attorney general Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against Tenn.-based Brookdale, pertaining to its current skilled nursing facility in Bakersfield and nine of its former facilities throughout the rest of the state.
The lawsuit argued specifically that Brookdale submitted artificially inflated nursing staffing data to CMS in order to achieve higher ratings on the overall five-star scale. The lawsuit also alleged that the operator did not follow the proper family and ombudsman notification process when handling resident discharges.
Brookdale operates and manages 679 senior living communities across 41 states, according to its most recent financial report. That total includes 559 assisted living and memory care campuses, 68 independent living developments, and 19 continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs); the remaining 33 consist of communities managed for third parties.
Brookdale did not admit any liability or wrongdoing in agreeing to settle the case, according to court records. In an emailed statement to Skilled Nursing News, a Brookdale spokesperson said they “strongly disagree with the characterizations made by the other parties in the case.”
“Our communities rely upon the relationships we build with our seniors, and our top priority will always be the health and safety of our residents and associates,” the statement read. “Resolving this case for an amount equal to the continued cost of defense was in the best interests of our residents, and we are pleased to put this behind us.”
As part of the settlement agreement Brookdale will pay $2.4 million in civil penalties, $550,000 in costs and $300,000 to the Kern County long-term care ombudsman, in addition to appointing a monitor to oversee compliance at its Kern County facility.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in the news release that Brookdale put its residents at risk and “misled” prospective residents about the quality of its California facilities.
“Today’s settlement will hold Brookdale accountable by making certain that its California locations are in full compliance with the law and provide truthful information for Californians to use when choosing a facility for themselves or their loved ones,” Bonta said.
The deal comes at a time when the Biden administration has said it
will place a heightened focus on nursing home financial transparency and
accountability — in line with the White House’s proposed sweeping nursing home reform announced late last month.