Univita bankruptcy trustee seeks to recoup payments
MIRAMAR, Fla. – HME providers who were left largely empty handed when Univita Health collapsed and subsequently filed for bankruptcy took another hit recently when they were asked to pay back money.
The bankruptcy trustee has begun sending letters that assert claim to money paid to providers during the three-month period prior to the bankruptcy.
“A lot of suppliers are getting these letters, which are basically demands for thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands, of dollars,” said Valerie Eastwood, an attorney with Brown and Fortunato. “It’s shocking and causing a lot of anger in the supplier community.”
Univita filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in August after Florida Medicaid terminated its managed care contracts and thousands of providers—mostly in Florida—lost money on claims that were never paid. Its assets were sold in November to Miami-based Integrated Home Care Investors.
The letter adds insult to injury, but it’s standard operating procedure in bankruptcy cases, says Eastwood.
“It’s part of the law, which says a trustee can recover certain payments if they were made by a debtor within 90 days of the bankruptcy,” she said.
For providers who do receive the letter, it’s critical to respond, says Eastwood.
“Do not ignore the letter,” she said. “There are defenses to the collection of these funds and they need to be sure they respond to the letter and assert that.”
While many providers held out hope after the initial bankruptcy filing that they might get paid for outstanding claims*, they have since moved on.
“I decided not to go through the hassle of trying to work it out and said the heck with it,” said Ivonne Gonzalez, president and CEO of Health Medical Equipment in Miami, who has not received a demand letter. “I might as well consider it a loss.”