Two healthcare suppliers and 28 people – including one of the suppliers’ CEO, 13 doctors, five nurses and a social laborer – were charged of contribution in a $115 million Medicare kickback scheme in California, the Justice Department reported Thursday.
Amity Home Health Care was said to have paid off in excess of two dozen defendants with kickbacks disguised as payroll, fake medicinal directorships, “reimbursements,” “entertainment” or “gifts” so they would make referrals to Amity and hospice supplier Advent Care, which thusly could charge for those services, investigators said. Amity Home Health Care is the biggest home health care supplier in the San Francisco Bay area, the DOJ said.
“The objections charge a plan for doctors, nurses and other medicinal care experts to trade patients for money,” U.S. Attorney David Anderson said. “This is the largest cash-for-patients scheme ever charged criminally in the Northern District of California.”
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Investigators said Amity CEO Ridhima “Amanda” Singh purportedly renumerated “marketers” with money and gifts and instructed them “to take clients out to elaborate meals, sporting events and purchase gifts for individuals willing to provide Amity with patients.” Those were mostly patients on Medicare, the federal health program for people 65 and older.
“When patient referrals were slow, Singh allegedly directed the marketer to incentivize clients with gifts in an effort to induce them to refer more patients to Amity,” the DOJ said.
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Each and every defendant was recorded as offering, tolerating or endorsing the kickbacks for referrals, as indicated by grievances.
“The transition to a home health agency should be based on medical and personal needs – not cash payments or thinly disguised referral bribes as alleged in these cases,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Ryan. “They will continue working with law enforcement partners to guard these vital government health programs, as patients and taxpayers deserve better.”