According to the Justice Department, A Plus Home Health Care, Inc. (“A Plus”), a Ft. Lauderdale home health care agency, and its owners have agreed to settle a qui tam case brought by a whistleblower alleging violations of the False Claims Act and payment of illegal kickbacks. Specifically, it was alleged that A Plus, through its owners, Tracy Nemerofsky and her father Stephen Nemerofsky, engaged in an improper kickback arrangement with the spouses of referring physicians.
According to the government, A Plus hired at least seven spouses of physicians and one physician’s boyfriend, purportedly to perform marketing duties. The government alleged that the group performed few, if any, actual job duties. The complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleges that the salaries paid to the physicians’ spouses and boyfriend were, in reality, illegal kickbacks intended to induce the physicians to refer Medicare patients to A Plus rather than to another home health care agency. Federal law prohibits the exchange of anything of value in an effort to induce or reward the referral of federal health care program business.
A former director of development for A Plus, William Guthrie, filed a qui tam complaint in 2012 alleging that A Plus engaged in the improper kickback scheme and submitted false claims to Medicare for the treatments provided to the improperly referred Medicare patients. According to the False Claims Act complaint, two physicians’ spouses were terminated because their physician husbands did not refer a certain number of Medicare patients to A Plus. The whistleblower also claimed that, in 2010 alone, Tracy Nemerofsky received a salary of $685,000 from A Plus due to the increase in the number of Medicare referrals A Plus received.
A Plus, Tracy Nemerofsky, and Stephen Nemerofsky have agreed to pay $1.65 million to settle the allegations. According to the Department of Justice, the government previously settled with individuals who allegedly received improper payments from A Plus, Nuria Rodriguez, Keifer Wyble, Mark Rogovin, Meredith Rogovin, Sam Sareh, Christy Sareh, Steven Hornreich, Fortuna Hornreich, Stacy Wolfson and Gary Wolfson.
The whistleblower will receive a percentage of the settlement proceeds as his reward under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.
Click for more information on What is the Anti-Kickback Statute?