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Family disputes Menahga's Green Pines Nursing Home bill

MENAHGA-- The family of a former Green Pine Acres nursing home resident attended the Greenwood Connections Advisory Board meeting this week to argue whether or not an $8,500 bill was fair.

Board members closed that part of the meeting to protect patient information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

After the meeting, the family offered information to the Enterprise. According to Marvin Matthews of Ogilvie, his mother was a resident in the Menahga nursing home for nine years until she passed away last October at 90 years old.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2006 and began taking Tamoxifen, a breast cancer treatment drug.

Eighteen months following her diagnoses, the Green Pine Acres administration classified her as a chemotherapy patient, which makes a difference in the bill, Matthews said.

But oncologist Dr. Mahendra Gupta of Innovis Health in Fargo, who treated the resident at the time, said in a fax to the nursing home, "Mrs. Matthews is on oral Tamoxifen for breast cancer. She is not on any chemotherapy at this time."

Additionally, the facility received documentation from Dr. Gupta citing the American Cancer Society's definition of the drug that it's not chemotherapy.

"I gave them all that documentation and at that time they refused to change it back," Matthews said. "So I just refused to pay."

Meanwhile, he was paying the old rate, which totaled approximately $114,000 over a 22-month period.

"Either they made a mistake and I got by with it for 18 months," Matthews said. "I have no idea what their thinking was when they decided it was chemotherapy."

The Minnesota Department of Health considers any type of anticancer drug chemotherapy treatment.

When the meeting was opened, board member and councilwoman Kim Rasmussen made a motion that Matthews owes the outstanding balance with no interest, based on MDH guidelines.

"I was thinking chemotherapy was a whole lot more than a pill," Matthews said, but he plans to settle and pay the $8,500.