When the government discovered that a home healthcare agency was paying kickbacks in return for referrals of Medicare patients, it went after everyone involved – including the patients.
Daymi Fuentes Gil, Olga Martinez Rodriguez, and Joel Loyola were Medicare beneficiaries and patients of Superstar Home Health Care, Inc., a home health agency that provided services to homebound Medicare beneficiaries.
The home health agency offered these patients kickbacks in return for using the agency’s services, and the patients accepted. According to the government, that made both the agency and the patients guilty of a conspiracy to pay and to receive illegal kickbacks.
The three patients were convicted by a jury and now will be sentenced. They face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 each.
The Anti-Kickback Statute states that it is a felony to knowingly “solicit or receive any remuneration” in return for purchasing services or equipment that will be reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, or another government program.
It is not a defense that you actually needed the service or equipment. Once a kickback is involved, the entire transaction is considered a false claim.
The law is very broad. It is not limited to payments of money. A kickback can include free services or equipment, gifts, discounts, or almost anything else of value.
It also covers everyone involved. In this particular case, the government has charged 18 individuals, including the president and manager of the home healthcare agency, several employees of the agency, a number of independent patient recruiters, and the Medicare beneficiaries who received the kickbacks.
If you are aware that kickbacks are being paid or other types of health care fraud are occurring, then you should consult with an experienced Medicare fraud attorney immediately to protect your rights. Do not wait until FBI agents are knocking at your door. You may be able to avoid criminal prosecution if you act quickly.
You may even be entitled to a very large reward and legal protections as a whistleblower if you are the first one to help the government uncover the fraud. Under the False Claims Act, the government pays rewards of up to 30% of the amount it actually recovers.
Do not delay. Get an experienced trial lawyer on your side. To arrange a free and confidential consultation, call John Howley, Esq. at (917) 652-6504 or click here to reach our offices via email.
John Howley, Esq.
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