For Immediate Release - July 07, 2010

AG Coakley Reaches Settlement with Health Care Company to Resolve Concerns Over its Product Marketing to Veterans

BOSTON - A West Springfield-based home health care company has agreed to pay $68,979.63 in restitution to consumers, as well as $34,000 in penalties and attorneys fees to the Commonwealth to resolve allegations that it deceptively advertised and marketed its Veterans Salute Program to veterans and veterans' spouses in western Massachusetts. P.J. Care, LLC, d/b/a Homewatch Caregivers of Western Massachusetts ("P.J. Care") allegedly caused consumers to spend thousands of dollars on its home health care services by representing that they might lose a federal benefit if they did not continue to subscribe to the company's health care services.

"We owe a great debt to our veterans and their families. Using deceptive or heavy-handed sales tactics to sell home health or other benefits to these individuals will not be tolerated by my office," said Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Through the Veterans Salute program, P.J. Care allegedly promised eligible veterans and veterans' spouses that it would help them secure the Aid and Attendance benefit from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs ("VA"). The VA's Aid and Attendance benefit can be used to cover the cost of home health care services. Although P.J. Care is not affiliated with the VA, the company's advertising and marketing of the Veterans Salute program misled consumers by representing that P.J. Care was affiliated with the VA. The VA does not contract with private companies to administer the Aid and Attendance benefit and the VA has exclusive rights to administer the program.

The violations of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act are alleged to have occurred between December 2004 and February 2007.

In addition to restitution, P.J. Care is also permanently prohibited from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in marketing or advertising home-health care services to veterans or their spouses.

This investigation and resolution was handled by Assistant Attorney General Sarah Ragland with assistance from Division Chief Thomas O'Brien, of AG Coakley's Health Care Division.