Published on May 27, 2021
Yesterday, Colorado state regulators in coordination with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initiated a surprise audit of InnovAge (INNV) facilities in the state. InnovAge’s facility in Sacramento, California also received a surprise visit by regulators.
InnovAge is the country’s largest provider of services under the government Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, which is run in collaboration between Medicare and state Medicaid programs. InnovAge conducts roughly half of its business at facilities in Colorado.
The Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing, which oversees PACE programs in the state, as well as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which licenses and inspects nursing homes and other health care facilities, are looking into complaints of improper care at InnovAge facilities.
A spokesperson for HCPF confirmed the new audit but declined to provide any additional details because the audit is active and ongoing. A spokesperson for the California Department of Healthcare Services, which oversees PACE programs in that state, was unable to confirm that department’s involvement by press time.
The Capitol Forum has previously investigated quality of care concerns at InnovAge facilities as well as the company’s push to enroll as many participants as possible in order to maximize reimbursement from state Medicaid programs.
A source at InnovAge told The Capitol Forum that the company initially instructed employees to answer questions as vaguely and ambiguously as possible when auditors arrived yesterday. However, on a Zoom call today, Dr. Melissa Welch, InnovAge’s Chief Medical Officer, walked back that order, telling staff that the company couldn’t “interfere with any questioning that state or CMS may have” and instructed them to answer questions honestly.
However, Welch also told employees that “it is our right as an entity to have managers and supervisors be available to our employees when the state and CMS are on site” and that “we are asking if you are interviewed, you have one other employee to serve as a witness to what was asked.”
Auditors are also interviewing patients, though an InnovAge representative will not be present during those interviews.
The audit apparently caught InnovAge management by surprise, though they told staff that they believe the audit may be politically motivated and without merit.
“[CEO] Maureen was called early yesterday and within two minutes of being called was told that auditors would be on site at all of the PACE locations and in Sacramento,” Welch said, adding that “we do believe that some of what’s going on in Colorado in particular relates to some disgruntled employees who left several months ago and other complaints that may have gone to the state about some of the turnover of staff, in particular at Thornton.”
As The Capitol Forum has previously reported, high staff turnover at InnovAge’s Thornton facility has left hundreds of elderly patients without any primary care providers at certain points over the last few months.
“Since we’ve gone public about a month ago we’ve had a lot more scrutiny and interactions with the state, some of which we do believe may be politically motivated,” Welch added.
It is not known what potential outcomes could occur from the new audit, though agencies in other states have barred delinquent PACE operators from enrolling new participants until deficiencies are corrected.
InnovAge did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article.