Consumer Fraud

Whistleblower lawsuit against Florida nursing home leads to record $17-million settlement

Pills Stethascope on Money 435x289 Whistleblower lawsuit against Florida nursing home leads to record $17 million settlementA whistleblower lawsuit filed against Miami, Fla.,-based Hebrew Homes Health Network by its former Chief Financial Officer ended with a settlement requiring the company to pay the U.S. $17 million. The U.S. Justice Department said the settlement was the largest ever involving Anti-Kickback Statute violations by a skilled nursing home.

The U.S. Justice Department, which investigated the case and chose to intervene, said Stephen Beaujon accused Hebrew Homes, its former president and executive director, and its subsidiaries and affiliates of operating a “sophisticated kickback scheme” in which the nursing facility hired and paid numerous doctors into “ghost positions” that paid them generously but required them to perform little or no work.

The complaint alleged that these positions were created as a way of disguising kickbacks to doctors for referring Medicare beneficiaries to Hebrew Homes’ seven nursing and rehabilitation facilities in Miami-Dade County, Fla.

“Hebrew Homes’ intricate kickback scheme in this record-setting case threatened the impartiality of physician referrals, the financial integrity of Medicare and the public’s trust in the health care system,” said Health and Human Services Special Agent Shimon Richmond. “Our agency will continue to investigate nursing homes and other health care providers that seek to illegally boost profits at the expense of federal health care programs.”

As part of the settlement, William Zubkoff agreed to resign as Hebrew Homes’ Executive Director and to no longer be an employee of the company. The settlement also requires Hebrew Homes to enter into a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the Health and Human Services Department and to change its policies on hiring and maintaining medical directors.

Mr. Beaujon, who filed the lawsuit against Hebrew Homes under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, will receive $4.25 million as his share of the recovery, the Justice Department said.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice