US Attorney’s Office Joins Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Home Health Company
The United States Attorney’s Office has intervened in a whistleblower lawsuit against a health care company that is accused of Medicare fraud.
A Plus Home Health Care and the company’s owner Tracy Nemerofsky are accused of running a fraudulent kickback scheme that used the names of doctors’ spouses and partners in sham marketing positions to induce the doctors to refer patients. According to the whistleblower lawsuit filing, owner Tracy Nemerofsky “generated sham personnel files, which included lists of job duties the spouses and boyfriend did not perform and performance reviews of job functions they did not complete, to give the false impression that the spouses and boyfriend were legitimate employees.”
According to the whistleblower accusation, Medicare billings from the company increased from $1.1 million in 2005, to $6.6 million in 2011. The increase came after the company began “paying” seven spouses and a boyfriend of their referring physicians.
“We will not relent in our efforts to combat fraudulent kickback schemes, such as the no-show jobs scheme used in this case, and return dollars to the Medicare program,” Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a written statement. “These schemes are classic examples of the fraud and abuse that plague and threaten the financial stability of Medicare, which provides much needed services to the sick and elderly.”
Both A Plus and Nemerofsky were named in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former development director William Guthrie, under provisions of the False Claims Act. So far, the federal government has settled with two of the couples involved in the whistleblower lawsuit for a minimal amount.
False Claims Act Protects Medicare Fraud Whistleblower Lawsuits
Medicare and Medicaid are government-sponsored health care programs that help the needy and the elderly cover health care costs associated with aging and disability. These programs are hugely important for people living on a fixed income, so it is incumbent upon doctors to honestly report costs both to patients and to the government.
Unfortunately, not all health care providers are honest in their assessments. Some health care providers defraud the government, in violation of the False Claims Act, by overbilling for services, double billing, or billing for services not provided. The False Claims Act imposes liability on persons or corporations that defraud the government – and this includes doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes.
The False Claims Act provides protection for those who report agencies or individuals who are defrauding the government. These lawsuits are called whistleblower, or qui tam, lawsuits.
Under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act, the relator (plaintiff) files an action on behalf of the U.S. Government. The Act allows a wide variety of people and entities to file a qui tam action.
The whistleblower must have first-hand knowledge of the fraud. However, as an incentive for reporting the fraud, whistleblowers are eligible for 15-25% of any recovered damages.
The Strom Law Firm Protects Whistleblowers in South Carolina
The False Claims Act, also known as the Whistle Blower Act or a qui tam action, is intended to encourage people to come forward with information and assist the government in stopping the waste of Government funds.
Common whistleblower actions include:
- Medicare fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud.
To bring a qui tam action under the statute, an individual must have personal knowledge and actual evidence of fraud. Successful qui tam claimants will be rewarded a portion of the money the government recovers.
If you have direct knowledge of fraud against the government and believe you have a qui tam or whistleblower case, whether it is against a for-profit long term care facility, a technology corporation, or financial institution, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us today. 803.252.4800