Clinica Sierra Vista, which provides health care for low-income patients in Fresno, Kern, and Inyo counties, has settled income reporting violations for nearly $26 million.
U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert and California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the settlement on Thursday morning in a news release.
Talbert said that Clinica Sierra Vista voluntarily reported its wrongdoing to federal and state agencies.
“It’s important for medical providers to report accurately so that taxpayers aren’t overcharged for services with their dollars,” said Talbert. “We encourage others to follow the example of Clinica Sierra Vista in self-reporting overcharges and remain committed to working cooperatively to eliminate fraud.”
Said Bonta: “When companies take advantage of the Medi-Cal system, they harm patients across California who rely on the program for essential health care services. I commend the new management at Clinica Sierra Vista for coming forward, and for working with us and our partners to resolve their violations. This settlement will return the money where it belongs: to support California’s Medi-Cal program and the communities it serves.”
California will receive $15.59 million and the federal government $10.39 million from the settlement.
Investigators say that whistleblowers are often important in finding Medi-Cal abuse and fraud. Anyone with a tip can report it at this link.
No Impact on Patients: Clinica Sierra Vista
“Prior CSV executive leadership identified and voluntarily disclosed a potential accounting error in 2018, which began a legal process to reach a settlement to rectify the discrepancy,” Clinica Sierra Vista CEO Dr. Olga Meave in a statement to GV Wire.
“This settlement agreement is the final step in a process that has been ongoing for more than three years, during which CSV was able to set aside the funds for payment and plan for the organization’s financial future. Because of this, the settlement will have no impact on CSV operations, patients, or team members.”
In November, the Clinica Sierra Vista Board of Directors voted unanimously to appoint Meave as CEO.
Meave joined the organization as a physician-in-training in 2015 and became Associate Medical Director in 2018. In 2020, she was appointed Chief Medical Officer to oversee the organization’s response to COVID-19. She was named Interim CEO in April 2022.
Clinica Sierra Vista started in the Kern County farming community of Weedpatch in 1971. It has grown into a comprehensive health care group offering primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services.