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Standoff with a Sterling rehab center could cost local man more than $1M

Dana Haghighi and family members protesting against what they claim are unfair charging practices. Times-Mirror/Alex Erkiletian
An Ashburn man is staging a daily protest outside Potomac Falls Health and Rehab Center in Sterling over what he claims are unfair charging practices.

Dana Haghighi's father, Javad Haghighi, was first admitted to the rehab center in July 2016 after a fall and stayed in the facility until March of this year, according to the family. The Haghighis applied to Loudoun County Family Services Department for Medicaid, but it was turned down in December 2016 because Javad Haghighi had a small amount of savings, the daughter said.

According to Dana Haghighi, who signed an admission agreement at the rehab center to act as his father's agent, those savings were barely above the minimum for Medicaid to be approved. He unsuccessfully appealed the decision and later reapplied.

In February, Haghighi was served a lawsuit for nearly $64,000, plus interest and costs from Potomac Falls Health and Rehab Center.

The lawsuit alleges, “The defendant, Dana Haghighi breached his agreements with the plaintiff by failing to pay Potomac Falls for the services it provided to Javad Haghighi from the income, assets and resources of Javad Haghighi and by failing to timely and diligently apply for and obtain Medicaid coverage for Javad Haghighi.”

The attorney representing Potomac Falls Health and Rehab Center, Ron Ray, told the Times-Mirror that Dana Haghighi was alerted several times that payment was due for his father's treatment after his first Medicaid claim had been denied but had failed to pay, or use Javad Haghighi's small amount of savings, that could have led to his father becoming eligible for Medicaid.

Dana Haghighi claims he didn't know he would be personally liable for the payments and said he received the lawsuit while another claim for Medicaid to fund his father's treatment was still pending.

Ray said Dana Haghighi received a lawsuit because Medicaid was turned down in December and the rehab center had not received full payment for the treatment it had provided to his father once Javad Haghighi's Medicare coverage had come to an end.

Contracts are a standard way of medical facilities like Potomac Falls Health and Rehab Center protecting themselves from those who fail to pay medical bills, but Haghighi said such contracts are too long and many people don't read them or understand what they are signing.

“The contract takes a lots of rights away, you waive the right to sue -- if you owe money they can sue you.”

Haghighi, sometimes joined by other family members, has been protesting by the roadside outside the facility on Harry Byrd Highway six days out of seven for over a month.

Dana Haghighi's father came to the U.S. from Iran when he was in his 50s to work as a dentist.

Haghighi told the Times-Mirror part of the reason he was protesting was to “make new patients aware of their rights.”

"Whether we win or lose, it's therapeutic being out here. We are fighting back,” he said.

However, Dana Haghighi's protest means he is facing further legal action, once again brought by Potomac Falls Health and Rehab Center -- a defamation lawsuit for $1.1 million.

The lawsuit states that the signs carried by Dana Haghighi are defamatory and are damaging the rehab center's business and injuring its reputation. It gives examples of a patient checking out of the center against the medical advice of his physician, “stating that he was traumatized by the defendants' conduct and could not continue to reside at the facility.”

“Dana Haghighi is publishing false reports and making false statements,” Ray said. “He didn't have his financial affairs in proper order.”

As to why Dana Haghighi isn't protesting outside Loudoun County Family Services Department or specifically against Medicaid, he said he believes it's very hard to change the Medicaid system. Regarding the million-dollar lawsuit, it doesn't look as though Haghighi will be backing down any time soon.

“I'm not afraid of them suing me,” Dana Haghighi said.


“But when we came to America, they told me everything was free?  No?”

this is a very weak suit pay your bills like we all must do.

Just curious how much if any did they pay for 8 months? And why didn’t they remove the dad when it was denied in Dec? I know there is a lot of fraud in medical field with older immigrants trying to get coverage they don’t have.

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