A Kansas home health care company and its owner have agreed to pay the U.S. $1.8 million to settle allegations brought by a whistleblower under the False Claims Act that they paid unlawful kickbacks for Medicaid patient referrals.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday that Best Choice Home Health Care Agency Inc. of Kansas City, Kansas, and its owner, Reginal King, allegedly boosted Medicaid billings actively seeking referrals and paying for them.
According to the False Claims Act lawsuit, Mr. King and Best Choice entered into a kickback arrangement with Christopher Thomas, an individual who transported patients from their homes to medical facilities in the Kansas City area.
Mr. King and Best Choice allegedly paid Mr. Thomas $58,000 in kickbacks for new Medicaid patients he referred to Best Choice during a five-year period from Jan. 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2014.
The U.S. government considers billings to Medicaid, Medicare, and other taxpayer-funded health care programs resulting from kickbacks to be false claims because they are steered by profit rather than patient need.
“Fraud and abuse in Medicaid add costs without adding any value,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall for the District of Kansas. “We fight fraud to help make health care more available and more affordable.”
Medicaid is a jointly funded federal and state program. Of the $1.8 million that Mr. King and Best Choice will pay under the settlement, the U.S. government will receive $1,011,780 and the state of Kansas will receive $788,220.
The settlement resolves allegations originally brought under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by Mr. Thomas, the recipient of the alleged kickbacks. The False Claims Act allows private parties to sue on behalf of the U.S. and receive a share of any recovery.
Mr. Thomas will receive $43,178 as a whistleblower award. The amount represents 10 percent of the federal share of the settlement minus the amount that Mr. Thomas received in kickbacks during the duration of the scheme.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice