by: David Ham Updated:SEATTLE —
Seattle-based assisted living company Emeritus says the company is fully cooperating with a federal investigation.
"These types of inquiries are very common and not determinative of anything. Health care providers across the spectrum periodically address investigative inquiries by the many government regulators and agencies that examine reimbursement issues," said Karen Lucas, VP product development and communications for Emeritus.
The Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services would not confirm or deny the investigation.
Emeritus is the country's largest senior living chain with about 500 locations nationwide.
ProPublica reporter A.C. Thomas produced an hour-long special on assisted living facilities that focused heavily on Emeritus.
"What we know is that the us department of justice and the health and human services department are investigating the company," Thompson said. "What I’ve been told from someone with direct knowledge of the investigation is one thing the agents are looking at is Medicaid billing, that Medicaid billing many not be proper at Emeritus."
Depending on what the federal investigation finds, Emeritus may not be able to accept Medicare or Medicaid or the company could be fined.
"There are fewer and fewer buildings that actually take Medicaid so we work very hard to make sure that everyone has a safe place to live and that sort of thing," said Brian Kelly, the executive director at Emeritus Renton.
"If there is something the government thinks is serious enough to launch a two-prong investigation into them. that may mean there's something that consumers should be aware of," said Thompson who believes the investigation has been ongoing since early 2013.
News of the federal investigation comes as Emertitus plans to merge with Brookdale Senior Living.
"Please know that we are limited in what we can say due to the transaction," said Julie Davis, spokesperson for Brookdale.
Lucas said that until the investigation is complete, it's inappropriate and premature to talk about any possible problems of Medicaid billing.