Lake Forest, Calif. Apria Health-care has reached a preliminary agreement with the government and whistleblowers to pay $17.6 million

Lake Forest, Calif.

Apria Health-care has reached a preliminary agreement with the government and whistleblowers to pay $17.6 million, without admitting any wrongdoing, to settle allegations about Medicare billings.

The settlement involves two civil lawsuits that alleged the company submitted incomplete or inaccurate documentation to Medicare from mid-1995 through 1998. Throughout the litigation, which began more than seven years ago, Apria has said that “errors and omissions” may have been made, but maintained the amount and significance of the deficiencies was overstated. In 2001, the government said the company owed $103 million in overpayments, which officials estimated with penalties could have turned into a total liability between $4.8 billion to $9 billion.

With legal fees and other costs, the settlement will reach $20 million, which will appear on financial statements for the quarter ended June 30, according to a company statement. A final agreement may not be reached for several months.

“We are pleased that we have been able to reach an acceptable compromise with the government concerning our billing documentation and record-keeping during the period following the merger that created Apria 10 years ago,” company CEO Lawrence M. Higby said in the statement.

“Apria has further enhanced its industry-leading commitment to compliance with applicable laws and regulations by increasing the resources we commit to our formal compliance programs.”