United States Attorney's Office recovers $1.5 million in case against home healthcare company
Josh J. Minkler, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, announced today a civil settlement with United Home Healthcare, Inc. and B&L Personal Services, Inc. (known collectively as “United”). Both companies are located in Indianapolis and are owned and operated by Byron and Laura Harris. The settlement will result in a total payment of $1.5 million to the United States and the State of Indiana.
United provided home healthcare services such as personal and attendant care services throughout Central Indiana. In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General and the State of Indiana Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit began investigating a complaint that United was billing for services that it did not actually provide. Agents and investigators with HHS and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office interviewed patients and former employees, and reviewed multiple patient files.
According to Assistant United States Attorney Shelese Woods, who handled the case for the United States, the review of patient files showed that from 2012 through 2014 United had engaged in a pattern of overbilling services. Specifically, the patient files and corresponding billing data showed that many services billed for personal care and attendant care services were not documented; that there were dates for which United was reimbursed where the patient file showed that the patient did not receive the service; or that United over-billed the number of service hours actually provided to the patient.
"The civil False Claims Act was created to serve as a tool for combating fraud, waste and abuse in federally funded programs," Minkler stated. "A financial injury to the United States is a financial injury to all of us. This recovery sends the message that health care providers must comply with various applicable state and federal regulations when billing the United States Government for services, or they will face consequences."
Under the False Claims Act, the Government may collect three times the loss it incurred, plus a fine of $5,500 to $11,000 for each false bill submitted. According to AUSA Woods, the estimated loss to the Medicaid Program was $589,042.60 for thousands of individual claims. United is paying $1,454,490.27 to the United States, which is more than two times the estimated loss. United has also agreed to pay $45,509.73 to the State of Indiana for its investigative fees and costs.
“It’s a brazen violation of public trust when a healthcare provider hired to assist patients then fraudulently bills the Medicaid program, as taxpayers ultimately are victims in such a scheme. With the legal tool of the False Claims Act that encourages whistleblowers to come forward, the State of Indiana and our federal counterparts are able to claw back the tax dollars that were wrongfully paid out and hold defendants accountable,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) can receive information about suspected fraud at this link: http://bit.ly/1JDtOK2.
In agreeing to these terms, United denied all liability under the False Claims Act. In investigating the case, HHS did not uncover any evidence of physical injury or harm to patients as a result of the conduct.