October 8, 2014 — The federal False Claims Act allows health care insiders to bring a whistleblower lawsuit on behalf of the United States. The government counts on tipsters to protect the integrity of our federal healthcare programs. When medical providers bilk the system by overbilling Medicare for home health care services that are unnecessary or not provided at all, they put the continued viability of those health care benefits at risk. Whistleblowers, who are also called “relators,” are entitled to a share of the government’s recovery. Under the Act, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) may decide to intervene in the lawsuit and assume primary control for its litigation. The statute provides for a recovery equivalent to three times the actual damages plus civil penalties.
Medicare Fraudster Sentenced To Almost Six Years In Prison For Paying Bribes And Kickbacks To Recruit Medicare Beneficiaries For Home Health Care Scam
Annarella Garcia was ordered to pay $6.2 million in restitution and sentenced to a 70-month prison term for her role in a Medicare fraud scheme involving Professional Medical Home Health LLC, a now defunct home health care company in Miami, Florida. Garcia was a co-owner of the operation.
Professional Medical held itself out as offering home health care and therapy services to patients receiving Medicare benefits. From 2008 to 2014, Garcia paid bribes and kickbacks to patient recruiters who hunted down patients that Professional Medical could use to file false claims to Medicare. The recruited patients did not need home health care and/or did not receive it. She and her co-conspirators created phony patient records to make it seem as though the recruits were eligible to receive Medicare benefits for the home health care and therapy services, though many were not. As a result of the fraudulent health care scheme, Medicare reportedly paid around $6.25 million to Professional Medical. In June 2014, Garcia admitted to committing conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
False Claims Act Lawsuits Target Abuse By Medical Providers
While Waters & Kraus is not handling this particular False Claims Act case, we are representing whistleblowers in similar lawsuits. If you have comparable claims against a different medical provider, contact us by email or call our qui tam attorneys at 855.784.0268 to learn more about our practice and how we can work together to notify the government about fraudulent abuses of government-funded programs. Charles Siegel and Dan Hargrove, qui tam lawyers in Waters & Kraus’ Texas office, protect tipsters throughout the whistleblower lawsuit process.